The exhibitor, Joachim Seitfudem, is a woodcarver from Bavaria who is now living in Bristol and whose father, Hans-Joachim Seitfudem, is a well-respected master carver in the Bavarian tradition.
It was very interesting talking to Joachim about how his father encouraged his carving from an early age. A lot of the woodcarving from that area depicts religious subjects, which isn't surprising when you consider that one of the main towns near the place that he grew up in is Oberammergau, famed for it's Christian passion plays (theatre re-enacting the suffering and death of Jesus).
|A work in progress in the corner of the exhibition|
In Britain, the religious upheavals following the Reformation during the 16th and 17th centuries mean that there isn't a continuous heritage of ecclesiastical carving. A lot of older church carvings were also deliberately destroyed by the Puritans, in their general campaign to make the country a more 'pious', drabber and more boring place. How many carvers must have lost their livelihoods or gone abroad in those times, when regular carving work must have been hard to find?
It's interesting to see, as a woodcarver, how the carving tradition is followed in areas like Bavaria or Austria which weren't subject to the same kind of disruptions as those experienced here. Joachim said that his father encouraged his carving from an early age, giving him exercises like carving a piece using only one gouge and sometimes destroying his son's pieces that weren't up to scratch (sounds brutal, but you certainly wouldn't make the same mistakes twice!) Some of these early exercises are on show in the corner of the gallery.