Inhabit. Photo: Abby Quick

Mary has spent two three month periods in Tuscany – as a Royal Scottish Academy John Kinross Scholar in Florence when a new graduate in 1985 and thirty years later as recipient of Royal Society of Sculptors’ Brian Mercer Award to Studio Sem in Pietrasanta.  These have proved to be touchstones in the development of her work.

 John Kinross Scholarship 1985

This enabled Mary to study how Michelangelo imbued life, movement and feeling into the inert medium of stone, and to gain an understanding of how the Medieval mind built meaning into every part of a Church.  Central to this was understanding how sculpture and architecture worked in together to achieve a unified vision.

John Kinross Sketchbook. Photo: Abby Quick
Adore and Family at The Royal Scottish Academy

Brian Mercer Award 2015

During this period, Mary revisited the idea of stone animated to become flesh – of the flickering between the illusion of transient life and the reality of the frozen immobility of stone statuary.  

The vast array of stones from around the world available at Studio Sem ignited a use of colour in her work, in which she explored the symbolic use of stone in Medieval and Renaissance architecture. At the same time the freedom from deadlines enabled a fluid period of exploration, moving backwards and forwards between drawing and carving. There is more information on this Award in the Residencies and Symposia section.

Since returning home Mary has continued exploring these themes, as well as curating a show to mark the 40th anniversary of the Kinross Scholarships for the Royal Scottish Academy (scheduled for May 2021).

Five Moons