On Valentine’s Day, we’re going to a Somerset beach. We’re going to find a spot & leave this pebble there for a stranger to find.
I’ll struggle to put it on the shore & walk away, knowing how much time & care was taken to make it. Talented sculptor, Mark Buckman, created it for me as a commission, but it’ll be for someone else to find on that day… & that feels right.
I ‘virtually’ met Mark just over 4 weeks ago when I started this blog. I was searching for stuff I wanted to write about & discovered the Twitter feed of Westway Cinema in Frome. They had pictures of Christmas Star Wars Jawa sculptures on there. Don’t hate me... I’m not the world’s biggest Star Wars fan, but I was curious enough to learn more about the person who’d made these intricate little creatures. And I’m glad I was.
Mark taught himself to sculpt after a serious operation on his stomach & throat left him stuck in the house while recovering. He got bored, so he started doodling with the old bits of Plasticine his daughters used to play with. He’d never made anything before but he found it helped him, so he bought some different clays & tried a few things out. After sharing a couple of pieces on Twitter, people wanted to buy them.
His pieces have led him to Warner Bros studios to see the props team on 'Pan', to just missing out on a sculpt for Cinderella's coach at Shepperton. They’ve also caused him to take some big risks that haven’t always paid off. He spent two weeks on a £130,000 project to make a Christmas maze, but there was no work at the end of it & he’s still desperate to get in to film special effects.
When I looked through Mark’s work though, it was his pebble sculptures that really caught my eye: a pebble with a lock embedded in it. A pebble with an eye peering out of it. Another that’s hiding a grenade beneath it’s stony jacket. A shell with a sculptured hand reaching out at you! Someone's last rolo.
Mark explained to me that he’d made them because during his daily walks on the beach:
“I saw people there not really taking any notice of their surroundings, just taking it all for granted. I wanted to make people see things a little differently – like I do.”
So, he left these curious tiny rocks for strangers to find. Strangers that would spot something out of the corner of their eye & be surprised, amazed or a little bit baffled. They’d see things differently then!
The local radio picked up on his cool little idea. People started to wonder about these mysterious abandoned treasures & about the person who put them there, & I guess my Valentine’s pebble is a bit of a tribute to Mark - to his drive to do something out of the ordinary. To the fact that even though he started making these heart-shaped pebbles for someone that has since broken his heart, he’s still going. Still creating.
On a day like Valentine’s, that you either love or hate, I hope someone finds this little gem of a pebble, made by a man with a big heart himself. I hope it makes their day.
Next Sunday, I’ll be leaving this pebble on the beach because doing things differently is something to be celebrated - & because I hope Mark gets the break he genuinely deserves.