About the Sculptor, Ronald Rae FRSS
Ronald Rae, Fellow of the Royal Society of Sculptors, first discovered his passion for carving granite at the age of fifteen, and has had a successful career, with many works in public and private commissions. 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. Now in his 70’s, Rae’s age and arthritis have prevented him from carving granite, but he has had a parallel creative life, and he continues to draw, also creating assemblages and improvising on the piano, being driven to create daily.
Ronald Rae has had major exhibitions of hand carved granite sculptures since 1994, showing at major venues including Sheffield, Milton Keynes, Regent’s Park in London, the Natural History Museum, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and Holyrood Park in Edinburgh. His best loved sculpture the Lion of Scotland is currently on exhibition in St Andrew Square Garden, Edinburgh. A group of 12 sculptures is available to view during business hours at Creetown Whisky Bond, Wigtownshire
Each exhibition has varied in theme with new sculptures being added whilst others have found permanent homes. The current exhibition at the Creetown Whisky Bond includes Rae’s ten tonne Elephant Family, a tender Heavy Horse and Foal and the Gorilla Family. The sculptures were carved over the course of twenty nine years in the grounds of Cramond Kirk in Edinburgh.
Ronald Rae was born in Ayr, Scotland in 1946. At the age of twelve he was drawing a weekly cartoon strip for a local newspaper. He struck his first granite rock when he was fifteen. Granite sculpture is his main love and obsession, but he has made fine art drawings in a highly diverse range of styles and media over the past 60 years.
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 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 59 years of carving granite, Ronald Rae has many sculptures in important private and public collections in the UK and abroad. Rae draws, paints, works in mixed media and writes poetry.
For pleasure he walks, cycles, listens to world music, plays the piano and folk instruments.
To see four short videos of the creation of the Baby Elephant from finding the stone in the quarry to its 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.