Peter Hibbard - on being a sculptor

Peter Hibbard sculptures

Did you always want to be a sculptor?

As a boy I wanted to know how to use my hands to make things. It was acquiring craft skills and discovering techniques for handling different materials which first interested me, then came the separate challenge of developing design skills at Loughborough University, where I was then given the opportunity to change direction and start to become a sculptor.

What was your first piece of sculpture?

A woodcarving of a thin figure leaning forward in the wind. It was made from part of a piece of wood I'd salvaged from a garden bonfire at Quorn Hall, my former Hall of Residence when I was a student, and it's still on the hall table at home.

When did you first exhibit sculpture?

I had 7 pieces selected for a show when I was only in my second year as a student, then, in 1966, exhibited several pieces in my former home city, Sheffield, when the city celebrated being one of the venues for the football world cup matches, and I began to show regularly in London from 1970.

What is your favourite material?

Although I often used to have pieces cast in bronze and once even had a reputation for making work from plastics, I now prefer to carve directly, mainly using stone and with some recent pieces combining both wood and stone in the same sculpture.

Where do you get the different coloured stones?

Some pieces are bought straight from quarries, but, for about 30 years, I have selected most of my stone from Nigel Owen's stock yard in Northamptonshire, England.

Do you start with a drawing?

Sketching is a good way of jotting down early ideas for potential sculptures but it certainly isn't the only way to begin new work, as sculpture is so fundamentally different from drawing. Three dimensional sketches can be made, perhaps using clay or plaster, though simply looking at things and thinking about one's ideas is all that may be needed before creating the actual sculpture.

How many sculptures have you made?

I know how many pieces have usually sold each year and how many years I have been working, so I can confidently say over 400, but I am not certain what the exact figure will be.

What's your favourite piece?

In different ways, I like all the sculptures which are still in my studio, but 'Venus' is the most fun to touch. When making a new piece of sculpture, it is, temporarily, one of my favourite pieces of work, but I live with the constant hope that I am just about to produce my finest work, so my absolute favourite piece hasn't yet been produced – and I am happy with that.

When is your next open studio event?

The first weekend in August, Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th 2012. You would be very welcome. It has become an annual event which gives visitors the opportunity to see work in the context of the workshop.