I am Marjorie Applegate, a sculptor who works in stone. In fact, when reviewing my work I guess I never left the Stone Age. Anyone who has seen my garden has viewed rabbits without ears, heads without noses, all sorts of creatures, real and imaginary. Before getting into sculpture I used to paint and do portraits. I shared a studio in Mount Adams with a friend and fellow artist; we painted merrily for two or three years. After my few years of painting I left the studio space and rolled down the hill to the Art Academy. It was there that I met Charles Cutler. Once I saw his incredible stone carvings – I was hooked never looking back.
So from then on I sculpted, he was a major influence in my work. I asked him if he would give me lessons in my studio. He said he would, provided I could entice a few others to come and make it worth his while. I took off from there. He was quite a character as well as an inspiration. Cutler insisted I carve in granite. There isn’t a harder or denser stone. To find the perfect stones for my work, I used to make trips to the stone quarries, mainly in Knoxville, Tennessee. I have also prowled around cemeteries and old rock piles to find discarded tombstones. All of my original stones had someone’s name on them. This is not as macabre as it sounds, as all these stones have been replaced by something grander and more elaborate.
After several years of carving under the expert thumb of Charles Carter I began exhibiting at the downtown Closson gallery. My first show was in 1971 and I have had exhibits every five years since then. Enough to keep me busy and out of the kitchen. When I am carving a stone, such as a rabbit, I am apt to lose an ear, due to some unseen flaw in the stone. The time when I did lose an ear, I turned the stone completely over and around so I could think of something else to sculpt. That particular stone ended up being a woman with a stray lock of hair. This sculpture was really pretty nice, and to this day it is known as a “hare.”
My method of working has always been with a hammer and chisel.
I have nothing against power tools, which are mostly used today, but I find them too heavy and very awkward. Also nowadays, how times have changed, computers are being used to measure and design stones, or to replicate an existing stone. The computers are taking over. I believe that a sculpture created this way has absolutely no soul. I relish seeing a raw stone and even the chisel marks on it. I also enjoy finding my way in the stone and seeing it slowly emerge into a real creation that is all my own. If you have ever been to Egypt and walked into the Cairo museum, you would have been blown away. What Majesty! What incredible sculpture: Pharaohs, birds, monkeys, lions and all the symbols of Egyptian civilization…. Now that was sculpture! And all in stone.