Moulton College is extremely proud of Level 2 stonemasonry student Alexander Brown who was invited by Alex Wenham to undertake a week-long work experience with him in Oxford.
Alex Wenham has huge experience in both masonry and stone carving and has won the speed carving competition at the European Stone Festival four times in the last six years. He has also won first prize at the Journées de la Pierre festival, an important gathering of French stone carvers. The high level of his work was evident to Alexander in the examples of finished work around the workshop.
Alexander was set to work straight away, helping on a project to restore a chimney stack on All Souls College, Oxford, which involved working on some very interesting masonry. The chimneys were 10 feet tall and stacked in rings separated at different levels. His first job was to mark up and cut one of the half rings on the south facing facade. Alexander was really keen to get it right first time, because this would be his first masonry moulding to be installed on a building in public view.
Every day Alexander discovered new techniques to build on those he had learned at college. These allowed him to either improve his speed or achieve a more accurate finish. He had access to a wider range of tools and gained experience using power tools such as disc cutters and disk sanders on marble. His confidence was on the up, and even by the second day he could see himself in the role of a professional working mason.
Alexander found it very motivating to see how different people brought their skills together on the restoration project and he met people on site who he hopes to work with again one day.
The week had seemed a massive challenge, but eventually it became apparent that Alexander would finish the moulded stone section for Soul College. When he did so, with a couple of hours to spare, he was so proud of himself: he had managed to finish his first commercial piece of masonry in time and with no errors!
Afterwards, Alexander said: ‘I am so very grateful to my tutor Emma Dexter for helping me find this amazing opportunity. Also to Alex Wenham for his knowledge, his passion for Stonemasonry and the piece of Carrara marble he gave me – I intend to do some letter-cutting on this soon. I would also like to thank the Worshipful Company of Masons for the financial support I receive to help me attend Moulton College.’