Paul Mason was in his 20s when Frederick Gibberd commissioned HINGE, a five-foot red sandstone piece (number 57on the map). That early break in 1977 led Mason into an illustrious career with publicly displayed works in major galleries and outdoor sites.
Two years later, thanks to an Arts Council grant, Harlow Art Trust invited him to create a sculpture for Broad Walk. That piece, Vertex, took Mason more than a year to carve from the three-ton block of hard grey Bardolino marble he selected, much harder than the sandstone of Hinge.
Mason was born in 1952 in Lancashire. Among the teachers of his student years was Willy Soukoup – creator of Harlow’s much-loved, and listed Donkey, sited at Halling Hill. His outdoor commissions presented Mason with opportunities to work with a variety of landscapes. These included city spaces, such as in Sheffield, and riverside or maritime sites, including the Isle of Wight and Southampton. Of his own output, Mason said: “My works attempt to recognise and emulate the natural forces inherent in both carving and the geology. There is something deeply attractive and satisfying about the sculptural processes on both scales, and the dialogue between them that occurs quite naturally within the fragment and the whole.”
A major accolade came in 1996 when Mason was invited to work from the late Barbara Hepworth’s studio in St Ives, Cornwall. The stone he carved there became centrepiece in an exhibition: Paul Mason: new sculpture for Tate St Ives. In the final years before his death in 2006, Mason undertook a year-long residency at Gloucester Cathedral, and exhibited more experimental work at the Bauhaus Archive in Berlin.
His last exhibition, “Stone Landscapes – a geometry of fracture” was in May 2005 at Quay Arts, in Newport, Isle of Wight.
Throughout his career, Mason continued to teach and in recognition of his encouragement and influence of younger generations, he was awarded the title of Professor of Sculpture at Derby University in 2004.