About Ronald Rae

About the Sculptor, Ronald Rae

Ronald Rae

Scottish sculptor Ronald Rae first discovered his passion for carving granite at the age of fifteen. Now 50 years later, his dedication to granite remains undeterred despite the physical and mental effort that carving demands. Working intuitively using only hand tools he is able to convey the tenderest of feelings on to one of the hardest stones in the world.

The Ronald Rae Sculpture Exhibition of hand carved granite sculptures has been on tour in England since 1994 showing at major venues such as Sheffield, Milton Keynes, Regent’s Park, London, the Natural History Museum, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh and currently at The Falkirk Wheel in Central Scotland. His best loved sculpture the Lion of Scotland is currently on exhibition in St Andrew Square Garden, Edinburgh.

Each exhibition has varied in theme with new sculptures being added whilst others have found permanent homes. The current exhibition at The Falkirk Wheel includes Rae’s ten tonne Elephant Family. The sculptures were carved over the past twenty three years in the grounds of Cramond Kirk in Edinburgh.

Ronald Rae was born in Ayr, Scotland in 1946. Whilst still in short trousers he struck his first granite rock. At the age of twelve he was drawing a weekly cartoon strip for a local newspaper. Drawing would be an important part of his life but sculpture his main love and obsession.

In the beginning Rae explored his faith through his art. This resulted in a large series of emotive drawings and carvings based on the life of Christ. Being brought up in the countryside it followed that he expressed his appreciation of animals in his art. Aware of his Celtic heritage he thrilled at seeing Scotland’s ancient carved stones and Celtic crosses that often included wild boar, horses and bears. In response he has carved all these animals.

Rae was always intrigued by prehistoric cave art. This perhaps inspired his relief sculpture Bison. In this work he did not carve the stone in the round but used his chisel to draw on its surface. Also carved in relief is the monumental Tyger Tyger.

The pink and grey granite that Rae has carved for the past twenty years comes from Kemnay and Tillyfourie quarries in Aberdeenshire. The silver grey granite he used for his earlier works came from Creetown and Dalbeattie quarries on the Solway Firth. The oldest granite is 470 million years old. It is in these quarries that Rae finds the right stone or the stone finds him. He makes no plans in advance for his sculptures. He carves intuitively to find what is within each stone. Often he finds animals. To him it is “a miracle.” He says passionately “I do not just carve animals, I try to carve the spirit of animals. The sculptures are a thank you for my life – they are my prayers”.

After 50 years of carving granite Ronald Rae now has many sculptures in private and public collections in the UK and abroad. Not only a sculptor he draws, paints, works in mixed media and writes poetry.
For pleasure he walks, cycles, listens to world music, plays the piano and folk instruments. At present he is working on a series of large format books and Family Bibles. He regularly comments on the world situation in his thought-provoking Political Cartoons. See list on right margin under ART on the Home Page.

One of his latest carvings of a Baby Elephant is in his yard behind Cramond Kirk. To see four short videos of the creation of this work from the quarry to completion go to the right margin under LATEST NEWS ON VIDEO – Ronald Rae returns to carving granite Parts One, Two, Three and Ronald Rae completes his Baby Elephant – Part Four.

At present Rae is carving another endangered species – a seven tonne Gorilla.

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