Denis Alva Parsons
Denis Alva Parsons
Denis Alva Parsons
|Born||14 November 1934|
Polesworth, Warwickshire, UK
|Died||4 April 2012 (aged 77)|
Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, UK
|Education||Seven year apprenticeship, Robert Bridgeman & Sons, Lichfield, UK|
|Known for||Sculpture, carving, letter cutting, gilding.|
|Awards||MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire), ARBS (Associate of the Royal British Society of Sculptors, Membership Number 161)|
Denis Alva Parsons MBE ARBS (14 November 1934 – 4 April 2012) was an English sculptor and carver in wood and stone, working in the tradition of "direct carving" technique and figurative bronzes.
Denis Parsons was a sculptor, one of the last traditionally-schooled craftsmen in a long British carving tradition. He was accomplished in "Direct carving" – cutting figures out of a block of stone or wood. This was seen as a primary test of the artist's abilities in releasing the figures "hidden" in the inert materials.
Born near Polesworth, Warwickshire, Parsons spent his whole working career in the Midlands. In the 1950s, he served a seven-year apprenticeship with Robert Bridgeman and Sons, Lichfield, later to become Linford Bridgeman a company concentrating on architectural and ecclesiastical carving and sculpture. At the time, the company employed a substantial team of carvers, each with a specialist skill in figurative sculpture, foliage carving and letter cutting. From each craftsman Parsons was fortunate to acquire traditional skills which had been developed and handed down over many generations. Later he became the company's head sculptor before setting up his own studio near Lichfield. See The Architects' Journal reference below.
In a career lasting over fifty years, Denis Parsons established a reputation in the field of wood and stone carving, both figurative and architectural. A range of his figurative work can be found in locations worldwide. St Joseph's R.C. Church at Darlaston, Wednesbury, West Midlands, UK features four of his figures. The Samuel Johnson Birthpace Museum in Lichfield, Staffordshire, UK exhibits a figure of Dr Johnson in the round created by Parsons. St Ambrose's Church, Kidderminster, UK displays Denis' interpretation of St Ambrose in lime wood. The crypt chapel at St Marylebone Parish Church, London contains a crucifix by Parsons. His work is to be found in many of the great buildings across the UK – including St Paul's Cathedral, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey where Parsons was responsible for the restoration/replacement of eight large figures and decorative stonework on the North Transept. His skills were often called upon during major conservation projects for the National Trust including Little Moreton Hall which is featured in The Building Conservation Directory 1994
Parsons demonstrated carving on behalf of The Royal Fine Art Commission (now known as the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment) at the Royal Academy in July 1989 in the presence of Princess Margaret and an exhibition titled "On the Side of the Angels" at the Commission's head office in St James's Square, London in March 1992 in the presence of The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh representing Linford Bridgeman, Lichfield. In 1992 Denis was elected an Associate of the Royal British Society of Sculptors, as member 161. In 1993 he was awarded the MBE in recognition of his services to conservation. In 2013 The Denis Parsons Foundation was created under the auspices of The City of Lichfield Worshipful Company of Smiths to provide funds to assist local apprentices in practical skills. A tribute to Denis Parson was published in the Lichfield Gazette in June 2013 and again shortly afterwards when they featured the establishment of the Denis Parsons Foundation.
Denis Parsons contributed an article to Practical Woordworking magazine in 1992. Parsons has been featured in many publications, including Public Sculpture of Staffordshire and the Black Country. Parsons talks to Marion Hancock about his career in The Architects' Journal. Parsons is featured in Country Life Magazine, where he was referred to as "one of the country's most expert architectural sculptors".
A book is currently being written about the life and works of Denis Alva Parsons.
|1955c.||St Michael the Archangel||Oak||Unknown|
|1960c.||Canon Jenkins Workshop||Stone||Lichfield Cathedral, North West tower|
|1960c.||Coat of Arms – Pope John XXIII||Portland Stone||Unknown|
|1960c.||Wheatsheaf||Clipsham Stone||NFU, Stratford-upon-Avon|
|1960c.||Jean-Baptiste-Marie Chapaghat||Bay Wood||Ontario, Canada|
|1965c.||Christ in Glory||Lime Wood||Unknown|
|1965c.||St Nicholas of Myra, Turkey||Mahogany||St Nicholas C of E Church, Droitwich|
|1965c.||St Chad||Honduras Mahogany||Unknown|
|1967c.||Madonna and Child||Material unknown||Unknown|
|1969c.||St Leonard||Hollington Stone||Unknown|
|1969||Blue Coat Boy||Portland Stone||Blue Coat School, Walsall|
|1971||Rondel, Our Lady and St Peter Work in progress||Cotswod Stone||Prinknash Abbey, Cranham, Gloucester|
|1972||The Good Shepherd||Lime Wood||St Joseph's RC College, Stoke-on-Trent|
|1973||Sir Thomas More in workshop On site Close up||Mahogany||Thomas Moor RC School, Willenhall, Walsall|
|1973||Venerable Francis Leveson Rear view Close up||Mahogany||Thomas Moor RC School, Willenhall, Walsall|
|1973||St Nicholas Owen Work in progress||Lime Wood||St Joseph's RC Church, Darlaston, Wednesbury|
|1973c.||The 'Blessed' John Henry Cardinal Newman||Portland Stone||Unknown|
|1974||Yoga Figure||Resin||Sculptors Collection|
|1975||Processional Cross||Oak/Gilded||Christ Church Cathedral, Stanley, Falkland Islands|
|1976||St Catherine of Alexandria||Clipsham Stone||Church of St Mary the Virgin, Higham Ferrers, Northamptonshire|
|1978||St Thomas Becket||Clipsham Stone||Church of St Mary the Virgin, Higham Ferrers, Northamptonshire|
|1978||Archangel Raphael & Archangel Uriel Raphael being worked Uriel being worked Uriel completed||Portland Stone||North Transept, Westminster Abbey|
|1978||Henry V & Catherine of Valois Carving Demonstration Catherine of Valois completed||Portland Stone||North Transept, Westminster Abbey|
|1978||Triple Shell Fountain Workshop Close up Side Shells||Portland Stone||Abbots Ripton Hall, Huntindonshire|
|1978||St Joseph and Child Christ Church||York stone||St Joseph's RC Church, Darlaston, West Midlands|
|1984||Talbot Hound||Grinsill stone||Alton Towers, Staffordshire|
|1985||Royal Achievement Coat of Arms||Pawsons York Stone||County Court Buildings, Burton-on-Trent|
|1985||Crucifix||Wood, Decorated and Gilded||St Agatha's Church, Llanymynech, Oswestry|
|1986||Crucifix In Workshop||Ash||Crypt Chapel, St Marylebone Parish Church, London|
|1986||Heraldic Symbols: Staff of Life – Lancaster Rose||Guiting Stone||Houses of Parliament, Riverside exterior|
|1986||Heraldic Symbols||Guiting Stone||Houses of Parliament, Riverside exterior|
|1989||Archangel Gabriel||Clipsham Stone||St Gabriels Church, Walsall|
|1990||Commemorative Tablet Work in progress||Welsh Blue Slate||St Osburg's RC Church, Coventry|
|1990||Dr Samuel Johnson Work in Progress Work in Progress RA Demonstration Completed figure front Completed figure rear||Burmese Teak||The Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum, Lichfield|
|1991||Little Moreton Hall South elevation Original post Carving in workshop Carving in situ||English Green Oak||Little Moreton Hall, Cheshire|
|1991||Amphitrite Rear view Close up Blocking in 1 Blocking in 2 Finishing||Lime wood||Sculptors Private Collection|
|1992||Sir Edwin Lutyens Blocking in 1 Blocking in 2 Carving Demonstration||Bleached Brazilian mahogany||Private Collection|
|1992||St Dunstan||Lime wood||St Dunstans RC Church, Kings Heath, Birmingham|
|1993||Pope St Gregory the Great||Lime wood||St Gregory's RC Church, Stoke-on-Trent|
|1993||Trophy boxes Trophy Box Working drawing Grand Cross Star Centre panel Crown Grand Cross Star in situ||Oak||Order of the British Empire Chapel, St Paul's Cathedral, London|
|1994||Sir William Dugdale, 2nd Baronet In situ Profile Clay maquette||Bronze||Merevale Hall, Warwickshire|
|1994||Dean John Lang & Francis Lang Work in progress||Stone||Lichfield Cathedral|
|1995||St Ambrose Working drawing Rear view||Lime Wood||St Ambrose RC Church, Kidderminster|
|1996||Salacia – Queen of the Ocean In workshop||Lime Wood||Private Collection|
|1998||Erasmus Darwin relief Incised Paving Slabs||Stone||Erasmus Darwin House, Lichfield|
|1998||St Kenelm Working Drawing In Workshop||Lime Wood||Our Lady and St Kenelm RC Church, Halesowen, West Midlands|
|1998||A pair of white lions In workshop In situ||Cedar||White Lion Hotel, Banbury|
|1998||St Mary and Child Christ Work in progress Dedication||Lime Wood||St Mary's Hospital Chapel, London|
|1999||St Kenelm Working Drawing School visit||Lime Wood||Our Lady and St Kenelm RC School, Halesowen, West Midlands|
|2002||Denis Parsons self-portrait Side view||Lime wood||Sculptors collection|
|2003||Augustus Pugin Portrait Bust Side View Base Maquette||Japanese Oak||Private collection|
|2004||Blessed Virgin Mary and Child Christ 1, 2, 3||Bronze||Church of Our Lady, Merevale, Warwickshire|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Denis Alva Parsons.|
- "Denis Parsons, artist in wood and stone". St Joseph's RC Church.
- "Johnson birthplace carves out space for crafts people". Lichfield Mercury. 4 July 2013.
- Crabtree, Charlie (29 November 2008). "Church celebrates 150th Anniversary". Kidderminster Shuttle.
- "St Marylebone Parish Church".
- "papers rel to carving of St Uriel". The National Archives. The National Archives.
- Atkinson, Daryl (1994). "A voyage of Discovery – The Repair and Restoration of Little Moreton Hall". The Building Conservation Directory: 59, 60.
- "On The Side of the Angels". The Birmingham Post. 21 February 1992.
- Parsons, Denis Alva. "Membership No. 161". Royal British Society of Sculptors.
- "The London Gazette Supplement:53332 Page:B20". The London Gazette.
- Lichfield Gazette tribute to Denis Parsons
- Lichfield Gazette – The Denis Parsons Foundation
- "Carving Through Tradition – Holding your Work". Practical Wood Working. March 1992.
- Noszlopy, George T.; Waterhouse, Fiona (2005). Public sculpture of Staffordshire and the Black Country. Liverpool: Liverpool Univ. Press. p. 278. ISBN 0853239894.
- Hancock, Marion (27 April 1994). "My Carving". The Architects' Journal. 199 (17): 58.
- Hall, Michael (21 April 1994). "True Principles". Country Life: 70.