Daubentons Bat Gargoyle

A new Gargoyle for Ripon Cathedral

Tom Nicholls wins the Ripon Cathedral Gargoyle Competition 2015

The project
In 2015 Cathedral Architect Oliver Caroe RIBA AABC of Caroe Architecture Ltd (the architect to Ripon Cathedral) invited qualified Uk based stone carvers to compete to win the opportunity to design and carve two new replacement gargoyles for Ripon Cathedral.
Funded through a grant from the Cathedral Fabric Commission for England’s (CFCE’s) First World
War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund carvers were asked to submit tender to commission one Gargoyle apiece.

The Brief
The brief was to create two new works of art to grace the Cathedral parapet which are sympathetic to the history and style of the building and which convey the spirit and intent of the original stone carvers’ work. Otherwise the carver was allowed free reign to invent the subject and identity of the new work.
The tender submission requirements included drawings or models of the design/concepts together with a statement describing how the viewer will read and enjoy the design, explaining the influences and why this belongs in the setting.

After extensive research into the history of Ripon Cathedral and the surrounding area Tom chose to base his unique design on the Daubenton’s Bat. The Daubenton’s Bat is an endangered species living locally to the Cathedral on the River Skell. Tom felt that this particular species with its large hairy toes and the curious dynamic forms found on its ears lent itself well to expression in stone in the Gothic Style.

To develop the design the natural features of the Daubenton’s Bat were studied and abstracted with stylistic reference to the other surrounding Gargoyles on the site and the Gothic style in general.

Sketches and drawing are the quickest and most direct method of creating and experimenting with ideas. Here is an early concept sketch of the gargoyle design.

Full size Clay Model
Once the overall concept and design had been decided upon a full size clay model of the gargoyle was worked to ensure every detail had been resolved.

Mould Making/Casting
Once the model was resolved and the clients happy a silicon mould of the model was made. The model was then cast in plaster to create a stable Maquette to serve as a guide for the carving process.

The Carving
Tom chose to do as much of the carving work as possible with hand tools because this leads to a more sympathetic approach to finishing the stone and is more in keeping with the original Gothic Craftsmanship. Carved from Highmoor Magnesian Limestone the gargoyle was very well received by the clients and now springs from its roost on the North Choir Aisle as a fully functioning overflow for rainwater.