These months four of my new sculptures are exhibited at the Etienne Gallery in Oisterwijk. (NL)

The works were made at the beginning of this year in my studio in Pietrasanta, Italy.

They are still part of the “Carrara Series” In my blogs from october untill november last year , you can see and read more about these series.

granite-kvo The planes  and lines, caves and caverns which can be found in the landscapes of the Carrara quarries in Tuskany, Italy, are still a source of inspiration for my sculptures.

Come and see the works!

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Every year the cultural organisation “Il Faro” organises a sculpture symposium in Reana del Rojale, near Udine. The place is situated in the north-east of Italy, a region that offers a big variety of beautiful stones. Artists from all over the world are invited to come and make a sculpture in one of the local stones .A very important event  for the region of Friuli and for the artists.


This year I  made a sculpture in Rosso Porfirico Verzegnis.

©karin-van-ommeren-ilario-bessi-beeldhouwer“Artisans working in Marble” historical photograph, Pietrasanta, by Ilario Bessi, from his book: “Il Marmo Ieri e Oggi.”

“Every block of stone has a statue inside”

That is what Michelangelo said. But how to get it out of that block? That has been a question for some time.


One way was to make a model and copy it into the stone. In the 17th century they worked with frames which were put on top and beneath the stone. From these frames one could find the perpendicular lines and measure the volume that had to be taken off.

Later on the craftsmen started using compasses. By putting some main points on the stone they are able to take very precise measures that help to carve the form in the stone.

Both methods are still used today, but new techniques showed up.


Now we live in a very different period. We have robots to carve the stone. Computer guided machines cut the shape out of the stone. A new approach which opens new possibilities. It could, for instance, be easier to make multiples in stone sculpture, which is usually only done in bronze sculpture. And another important fact is that these special computer programs also offer us a way to keep records of cultural, historically important monuments.

One can feel the form inside the stone, but our eyes aren’t good enough to see until the shape of the stone starts to guide the eyes.

I make my sculptures in Pietrasanta, Italy.

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The landscape, the surroundings we live in, are sculpted by time, by the weather, by men who build their towns and villages. The landscape, its battered surface, changes as time goes by. It is a record of the past, and a testimony to the society we live in today, but its essence lingers. Some places carry their essence on every hill, grove, … stone.

I found this little village close to the Carrara quarries, between the Apuan Alps and the Mediterranean. It barely stands on top of the rock, while the rest of the mountain crumbles away, it reminded me of the song written by Paul McCartney and it inspired me to make the round sculpture, pictured below, which I sculpted out of pink granite.


My studio is in Pietrasanta, Italy, in the foothills of the Apuan Alps, a few miles from Carrara.

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Granite was formed from the magma, the fluid mix of molten stones that is found beneath the surface of the earth. The magma cooled down slowly and as it was under constant pressure , it formed crystals from different types of minerals. Those minerals give the color to the stone and that is why we can find so many different colors of granite. The stone was formed deep beneath the earth’s crust thousands of years ago.

Its skin looks soft, its presence strong. Time is stilled.

In antiquity, according to Wikipedia, granite was used:

The Red Pyramid of Egypt (c.26th century BC), named for the light crimson hue of its exposed granite surfaces, is the third largest of Egyptian pyramids.  Pyramid, likely dating to the same era, was constructed of limestone and granite blocks. The Great Pyramid of Giza (c.2580 BC) contains a huge granite sarcophagus fashioned of “Red Aswan Granite.” The mostly ruined Black Pyramid dating from the reign of Amenemhat III once had a polished granite pyramidion or capstone, now on display in the main hall of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo (see Dahshur). How the Egyptians worked the solid granite is still a matter of debate. Many large Hindu temples in southern India, particularly those built by the 11th century king Rajaraja Chola I, were made of granite. There is a large amount of granite in these structures. They are comparable to the Great Pyramid of Giza.

I use mostly granite to create my sculptures. It is one of the hardest stones to carve, but also one of the most beautiful stones to work with.

My studio is in Pietrasanta, Italy, in the foothills of the Apuan Alps, a few miles from Carrara.

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Pietrasanta is a town on the coast of Tuscany, Italy, in the province of Lucca. It is situated in the foothills of the Apuan Alps, some kilometers from Carrara. The town has been called Italy’s “Little Athens” because, for centuries, artists from all over the world have come here to make their sculptures in stone or bronze. Since the 15th century Pietrasanta is famous for its connection with marble and it has a long tradition of excellent “artigiani” (craftsmen) for stone. It is also the home for a large number of high quality bronze founderies for art.

Today sculptors still come to Pietrasanta and rent a place in one of the  studios for a long or short period of time. Here the old tradition of stone sculpture by hammer and chisel can be found next to computer sent machinery that cuts the stone with high precision.

For me this town always has been very important for my work. The knowledge of the craftsmen, the excess of different types of stone and the tradition of stone sculpture in the daily life of the people of Pietrasanta has always been an inspiration.

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Two men splitting a block in the quarry. The diamond wire only came into use in 1978.
Hard work for tough people. Quarrying marble has been a way of life in Carrara and in the quarries of the Apuan Alps for centuries. Many died doing the work. Streets here have names like “Via dei Martiri del Lavoro” … the “Martyrs of Work Way… ” A complicated history.

The “Lizza”, the transport of the marble blocks  from the quarries in the mountains.

The photos are from the book “Il marmo….ieri e oggi”  (Marble… yesterday and today) by Ilario Bessi, published by Societa Editrice Apuana, it describes how the marble industry in and around Carrara has progressed over the years.

In the first century BC, Greek marble started to be replaced by the Apuan marbles. The seaside city of Luni was built, from where stone blocks were shipped to all parts of the ancient world.

Important monuments arose, like The Pantheon and The Trajan Forum. Michelangelo came to Carrara in 1518 to search for the blocks to create his sculptures.

In the last century Carrara marble was exported all over the world and used in an infinite number of  monuments.

The book shows the history of methods for quarrying, transporting and processing marble in the past through a series of beautiful pictures by Ilario Bessi, accompanied by a short and fascinating text by Alessandro Conti.

I, in my own way, continue in the old tradition … albeit with more modern tools. I make my art in my studio in Pietrasanta, the center for stone sculpture in Italy.

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“What art offers is space, a certain breathing room for the spirit”
– Updike

I’m posting more of the sculptures that I made – inspired by the marble quarries of Carrara. I call these works “The Carrara Series.”

In this landscape, where the surface has been stripped off by centuries of human interaction, one can sense the powerful resilience of nature.

Here are two sculptures I made in this series, both in granite of course.

Carrara is located in the Apuan Alps and is where the world’s finest marble comes from. I use primarily granite – from all over the world – like Africa, America, India… and Brazil. I make my art in Pietrasanta, a short half-hour from the quarries.

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Hands always have to touch the stone. Its color and crystals contain a mystery and harmony I try to hold on to. The memory of an image materializes itself. Everything I knew has flown away; all but this image that looms up as a diaphanous truth. Hands touch the stone to see and like a piano tuner tunes its chords the stone resounds the form.

I  make my art in my studio in Pietrasanta, in the marble and sculpture center of Italy.

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The quarries of Carrara marble in Italy are a landscape where the presence of man dominates and through the ages this has changed nature in such a way that a new surreal landscape has been created. A scenery of planes and lines, of caves and caverns, where people have looked for the stone for centuries. Marble is a precious material that tells us about our own origin, about eternity and about ourselves.

This “destroyed” landscape was the source of a series of sculptures in granite I made, called “The Carrara Series.”

“Aruns who on the mountains of Luni (where grubs the Carrarese who dwells beneath),amid white marbles, had a cave for his abode, whence for looking at the stars and the sea his view was not cut off”
Dante     Inferno Canto XX

I share below some pictures of the sculptures I made for this series.
The Carrara marble quarries are in the Apuan Alps near Pietrasanta.

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