Jamie Sargeant started work as a stone carver in England in the 1980s. He was assistant to David Kindersley in Cambridge for 4 years learning lettering and heraldic carving. Jamie then went on to practice architectural restoration and carving working on historical buildings in the UK and Ireland before setting up his own workshop with 3 other colleagues. They soon attracted commissions for public art. A series of significant projects followed – notably the redevelopment of Victoria Square in Birmingham (with the Indian sculptor Dhruva Mistry) and The Battle of Britain monument at Dover.
This period also marked the beginning of a close working relationship with the artist Ian Hamilton Finlay – particularly in his wonderful garden at Little Sparta in Scotland where we built gates, an aqueduct, a small neo classical temple and installed a series of bronze cornucopia. This unique property is now managed by The National Trust.
Jamie decided on a move to Norfolk and began working alone. He started making and exhibiting more work suitable for private gardens – alongside commissions for public art and memorials (the design and carving of uniquely crafted memorials is perhaps a very English tradition – marvellously mediated by The Memorials by Artists organisation). He was still mainly working in stone and wood though beginning to explore metal casting and fabrication. A large dragonfly sculpture in bronze and stainless steel at Norwich was commissioned by The Millennium Fund shortly before Jamie moved to Australia in 2001.
He settled on the central Coast in NSW. This move precipitated a radical reinvention of his career – he began collaborating more with local councils, landscape architects and developers in the public art domain. It was most fortunate around this time that he met the renowned garden designer Michael Cooke – another central coast resident who still lives and works at Central Mangrove.
Michael encouraged Jamie to make a body of work in stone (naturally the show was labelled Stone Fruit!) to exhibit at his annual ‘open garden’ event in 2005. The inspiration for the work was Australian native ‘fruit’ including Angophora, Casuarina, Turpentine and Banksia. It was a pivotal event – a rite of passage for Jamie seeking his way forward creatively in the new country. He again exhibited with Michael Cooke in 2011 – the work representing more stylised and abstracted natural forms – all of which have found their way into new homes and gardens.
The majority of new pieces are in metal nowadays. Stone carving is very labour intensive and the results are prodigiously heavy and cumbersome above a smaller size which makes it difficult to handle and install – particularly if access is limited. Metal fabrication lends itself to making work on a certain scale more appropriate for larger gardens. It can be moved around and installed with relative ease.
Jamie works with two colleagues from a studio workshop in Newcastle just north of Sydney. The range of work that is undertaken by Studio2 includes bespoke architectural and interior design projects, public art, signing, sculpture, water features and lately interactive LED light installations.
There are always garden works on the drawing board or tucked away in the imagination. Typically nowadays the conversation with the client and the constraints or character of the site will be the touchstone for the process of commissioning. Some work for garden exhibition in 2016 is planned.