“In Western Europe we have very few stonemasons left in the traditional sense. In China, on the contrary, I can contract with a crafts master one day and the next morning work is in progress. And I can be sure the job gets done conscientiously and professionally.”
One of Denmark’s most important contemporary artists, sculptor Claus Norheim Oerntoft, relies on skilled Chinese stonecutters to do the rough cut in solid granite.
Oerntoft’s latest assignment is for the Queen of Denmark, Margrethe II, who has asked him to create three large granite sculptures for the castle garden in Marselisborg. He decided on three lions, based on the Danish royal coat of arms.
The sculptures are scale models but in a few months the full-scaled models will be sent to China, where the initial work will be done in solid granite.
The work is done in Xiamen in southern China’s coastal Fujian Province.
His sculptures are as dramatic as the place he lives in, far up in northern Jutland, about as far as one can go in Denmark. He spoke enthusiastically about his work and his cooperation with Chinese stone masters.
“I don’t have the same strength as I had when I was young. Twenty years of working with carving granite have taken their toll on my arms, so I am no longer able to perform the rough part of shaping the stone,” says Oerntoft, who is around 50. “This I get done with the help of skilled stonecutters in China.”
During the course of his work, the artist has traveled to China to make sure the work is progressing according to his wishes and says he is delighted to be working with Chinese craftsmen.
“Here in Western Europe we have very few stonemasons left in the traditional sense. In China, on the contrary, I can contract with a crafts master one day and the next morning work is in progress. And I can be sure the job gets done conscientiously and professionally,” Oerntoft says.