Colin’s sculptures might be small, but they are mighty in significance, and when you buy one, you don’t only buy a piece of his mind and soul, but also a piece of geology, since each stone he sculpts was sourced by him personally during his explorations of abandoned mines or industrial archaeology sites.
While I interviewed him, for instance, Colin sold a piece titled ‘Anxiety’, a grey rock suggestive of a person’s head whose face is contorted in worry or distress, eyes wide open and mouth deformed.
“When I picked up this stone, it immediately concocted images of such sentiment with its dimples in the surface that spoke to me of staring hollow eyes, and a gaping mouth, so I chiselled out the eyes, and enhanced its grimace, then I finished off the details with charcoal, to add depth, and eventually varnished it in place and glued on a hand-cut marble stand.”
For just about £40 you can own a Colin original; he actually specialises in larger-scale limestone sculptures usually commissioned for outdoor spaces. Here, he combines his artistic talents with the chisel and the expertise derived from his chemistry degree.
Sometimes he pours acid on limestone to carve it, as he did for his giant dinosaur’s head, others he sticks to the old-fashioned ways, which may cause hiccups like cracks and snaps: “I made a fountain head for myself, inspired by the Mycenaean Agamemnon’s Mask, but one of its ears cracked off, so I had to reconstruct it in resin.”
Resin is a material he likes to experiment with, although most of his artwork is in marble, bronze or the ever-popular limestone, more malleable than marble of course – and sometimes volcanic tuff, whose interesting textures come straight from the bowels of Earth.
It all started fifty years ago, when he become interested in Art Deco and wanted to buy a few pieces, but they were too expensive for his young years, so he resorted to making his own ‘in the style of’. They were noticed by his brother’s friend of a friend, who, from the Midlands where the Thompsons were born and raised, took him to London and eventually to New York to exhibit and enjoy some notoriety, before his career veered tor the business side of life, and art making was set on the back burner.
When he moved to Spain twenty years ago, Colin was introduced through common friends to a geology professor at Granada University who invited him to tag along postgraduate fieldtrips to one of Almeria’s calderas, where the floor is ‘littered’ with garnet dust and whole crystals, a few of which Colin has gathered and used in his creations.
Each stone Colin carves has a special meaning to him, and it’s somehow connected to the subject matter. One of my favourites is ‘Mother with Two Children’, an abstract that perfectly portrays and conveys the comforting embrace of maternity. It is made with saccharoidal limestone, a geological formation rich in magnesium that was sought after for the production of steel in nineteenth century Malaga, because during the iron reduction process, its magnesium content would produce heat and release the iron faster. Its use as media for this sculpture embodies the steely determination and steadfast love only a mother can give.
Affordable portable pieces also accomplish the function of stress relief when Colin is working at a larger piece, where both talent and physical strength are required, and stamina sometimes find themselves in need of recharging with a more light-hearted pursuits, such as spotting the likeness of Egyptian Queen Nefertiti in a striped rhomboidal stone – featuring a stargazing monkey on its reverse!
There’s potential for mining and mine revamping in many Andalusian and Portuguese sites, Colin reckons, although most abandoned mines can prove metaphorical landmines with their toxic residue and crippled infrastructure. Indiana Jones style, he surveyed an old Roman mine in Portugal, where his vehicle tyres got corroded when he drove across the riverbed of the nearby stream, polluted with residue from extraction by-products.
He is still actively looking for a goldmine to give a new lease of life to, and despite not having struck gold in stone yet, so to speak, he claims that decent revenue can be made the old fashion way of Gold Rush prospectors at the river around Granada, where a few students are rumoured to be panning their way through university fees.
Of course, he ain’t disclosing its exact location yet, but he describes it as a tranquil spot perfect for a holiday that may potentially pay for itself.
For commissions, contact Colin on email [email protected] or visit his Facebook page to browse his latest creations.