Breathing new life into rock carvings and sculptures

Even in ancient times, with their limited and unsophisticated tools, early humans turn to rock carving not only to create tools but also to express their creativity and artistry.
These rocks carvings allowed archaeologists at the present to create a picture of what life was like in the past and the discovery of these ancient artefacts aided in a better understanding of the challenges of their times.
Stone carving and sculpture transcended time. Many different cultures across the globe were noted to turn into this art form to save information, to pass on their learning and to showcase the growth of their society.
In more than four thousand years, rock sculpture and carving lives to this day and even in Oman, this seemingly archaic method is being revisited by artists to express their creativity putting an upgraded twist to a time-tested methodology.
Ahmed al Alawi is one of the professional rock sculptors in Oman. His journey of sculpting rocks started in 2011.
“Sculpture is one of the arts that has captured my attention and when I started experimenting on it, discovered that I like working with stone materials’’, Ahmed said.
He shared that he liked how stones can be easily carved to create three-dimensional objects.
Ahmed celebrates the fact that the Omani environment is ideal for art with rock materials of various shapes, colours and sizes readily available to an artist.
“With the abundance of this medium, I decided to work in this domain in an innovative and crafty manner. By looking into the Omani heritage, I was able to create art that represents my upbringing and society’’, he said.
Having specialised in rock sculpture in the last few years, Ahmed can now easily shape rocks into different items, from pots to accessories even shapes of ancient artefacts. He also works with silver jewellery from time to time.
“To come up with my sculpture, first I choose the shape I wanted to sculpt. Then I choose suitable rocks in term of size and colour. Most importantly, I make sure that the rock is flawless. Using high-quality equipment helps to sculpt these materials precisely’’, he shared.
“With this kind of artform, wearing eye and mouth protection including gloves is necessary to avoid risks posed by inhalation of dust. The average time I need for one sculpture is one hour or one week, depending on the speed of production’’, he explained.
He shared that the biggest challenge he faced is the lack of a suitable site for sculpting rocks. This craft should be far from the residential neighbourhoods as there are usually large debris and dust particles during carving.
Ahmed shared that his distinctive style had been heavily influenced by his Omani heritage. He also celebrates the fact that working in small sizes, it makes production easy.
Ahmed said there is an abundance of materials to work with. He loves going back to nature for inspiration and materials.
Ahmed said that by focusing on this particular artform, he wished to preserve some of the beautiful Omani styles and create new styles in the process.
Once he has full mastery of stone carving and sculpture, Ahmed wants to venture to engraving precious stones which he considers to be more difficult and delicate.