About the Artist
As with most artistic personalities, Phil Hathcock is most definitely, One of a Kind. On first meeting this man, one is immediately convinced that they are in the presence of someone from another time and place. His large frame and tremendous strength seem in complete contrast with his gentle manner and soft slow drawl. One can immediately sense that this person is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about the stones and materials that he works with and that he has an innate ability to see in these materials a realm of purposes and possibilities that goes far beyond what most people see. This is immediately visible in all of his creations, as he is able to combine and balance stones of such amazing size and proportion, into formations that defy gravity and yet become instantly recognizable as what he began to create. What is even more incomprehensible, is that most of his work is done with only the assistance of a front end loader and either his small female assistant or his son, when he has time off from school.
How did this Renaissance Man end up with such amazing abilities to work with nature, not against it, in order to create such amazing sculptures that seem to come right from their natural state? As far back as Phil can remember he always loved nature. If he could be outside, that is where you would find him. His love of rocks and boulders and the many ways that they seemed to push up out of the ground and the new shapes and formations that they would turn into, led Phil to a career of working with stones, that began at the age of seventeen. Since that beginning, his progression from stone mason, to landscape design and development, founding and running Blue Ridge Stone Company, along with his father, Arch Hathcock until his demise, have all been stepping stones leading his way to his ultimate love of combining and working with stones, to create new and impressive formations of these Gifts from Nature.
During his many years of working with stones, Phil has made use of every opportunity to travel the world and study the many different ways in which rocks are formed, how they have been modified and used, and combined all of this information into a style that is at once recognizable as a Phil Hathcock Work. On every occasion possible, Phil, himself, will travel to the Quarry or location of the special type of rock that he wishes to work with. On the occasions when he is commissioned to use boulders selected by the clients, his seemingly unlimited knowledge about what ever type has been selected, allows him to provide the client with what may or may not be possible with the type of stone in question, or even if it might not be suitable for what the client desires. Phil is always uncompromising when it comes to the usage of any stone being true to its nature.
This brings us to Phil's philosophy of working with rocks as a medium for sculpture. Phil believes that each rock is a gift from nature and cannot be replicated. This was caused by their geological formation and the events that caused them to be pushed up out of the ground or forced them to break apart from the main formation and roll down a mountain. These events are directly responsible for the shape that the rock ends up with. Once they are out in the elements, weather conditions, such as rain and wind and even sun or shade, provide each rock with a texture or patina all its own. It is all of these events that obligate a sculptor to recognize this beauty in each rock and incorporate it and highlight this beauty any time that stone will be used as a medium for a new creation. Only elements and materials that enhance and compliment this natural beauty should ever be used, and then only in proper balance so as not to compete with the natural beauty of the stone. On some occasions, contrasting the rock with a different material that has been cut in the shape of a mirror image, such as a piece of shiny metal or even oxidized iron or steel, can be just the correct element to show the beauty of the color or texture of the rock. The resulting philosophy is a minimalist approach to the alteration of any natural stone.
As you browse through the Gallery, at the pictures of some of his sculptures, it becomes very apparent that Phil is very conscious of staying true to his convictions. When it comes to nature, the less we do to alter it, the more beauty it will retain.
Many sculptors, working with creations of such large size and enormous weight, create their pieces in a very different manner. Only a few are involved with each piece to the extent that Phil is. His creative process often begins out in the woods or on one of his expeditions to any of the many rock quarries he visits on a regular basis. When he sees a particular stone that because of an intriguing shape or interesting array of colors, seems to be saying look at me, he sets about either extracting it or making arrangements to haul it to the Studio. This can be as involved as having to return home, and getting the large truck and trailer ready to load with the front end loader and mobile lift. He then drives back to the stones location and with the help of the machinery, loads it and transfers it back to his work place. Once there, it must be unloaded and set up in an area where he will be able to work with it.
Visitors to our studio and work place are always surprised to find Phil and his staff outside actually doing the physical labor involved with every step of his creations. One reason is that except for when he does projects for companies that have involved an architect in an overall design, Phil's main staff consists of his assistant of more than fifteen years and his seventeen year old son, on a very limited schedule. They are able to work this way because they have worked together for so long that they each know what they are supposed to do, almost to the point of not requiring communication. The other piece of the equation is the use of very large and powerful pieces of equipment. With Phil in the drivers seat and his assistant strapping the rocks, and helping to guide direction of the machines, much of the heavy lifting and movement of the enormous rocks and boulders is taken care of without any other manual help.
We would like to invite any interested parties to call and set up a time to visit. Any questions will be answered after a trip to the work place.