Plans revealed for stone circle in Sheffield Wood that could be the city’s response to Stone Henge
A wooded area where the bubbles of the stream and the stone engravings watch over smiling faces. Where nature meets art and your problems seem to fade away.
This beautiful space has 60 sculptures that have watched weddings, film screenings and tours.
And now this enchanting place is almost ready to reveal another moment to marvel.
It is the latest ambitious project of Andrew Vickers, a sculptor known as Stoneface.
The 56-year-old was born and raised in Stannington, where he now owns the 10-acre Storrs Wood.
The wood is home to the emerging stone circle that could be Sheffield’s answer to Stone Henge.
Andrew’s circle has four stones located six feet above the ground and two feet below. Four other stones are slightly smaller at five and a half feet above the ground.
And in the center is a sculpture in the mind of the green man, a symbol of rebirth, representing the cycle of new growth that occurs each spring.
It all has to do with the pandemic and Andrew’s hope that we now emerge with greater respect for nature.
He has already carved a number of heart-shaped sculptures that have appeared in and around Sheffield in response to the community spirit he saw during the pandemic.
They form a path to the stone circle, which Andrew almost completed in memory of the pandemic and the people coming together to help each other.
Stones are high on the banks of the woods where Andrew has worked in isolation during lockdowns. He might have been isolated, but that didn’t stop him from admiring the stories that emerged.
âOver the months of isolation, the incredible stories of community spirit resonated more and more and the Storrs Henge Project began to form,â he said.
âIt’s a chance for people to reconnect with nature. Storrs Henge will be a unique space to heal, contemplate and look to the future.
âThis earthly sculpture will symbolize the strength of humanity that has helped us through this unprecedented period. “
Visible for miles around, each stone is hand carved to tell an individual story that celebrates the spirit of community that has endured.
Andrew adds that the stones will form the shape of an eye to symbolize this spirit and the fact that he thinks that there is always someone watching over you.
âMost of the carving work is done, it’s just a matter of tidying up and arranging the landscape,â says Andrew.
Unfortunately, when we speak, a generator has broken down, which means it’s overdue. But he still hopes to come full circle by July, with a ribbon cut later in the summer by highly regarded Sheffield artist Joe Scarbrough.
This recognition from a fellow artist is a sign of how far Andrew has come after struggling in school and facing a discovery that would have ended most people.
But he’s tough and it just might come from the way he grew up watching nature evolve.
Andrew was born in a house in Brookside Bank Road, Stannington, just two miles from the lumber he bought in 2011.
The house is also 200 feet from a river running through the woods. âThe stream is a constant theme in my life. “
So far so idyllic but he couldn’t play in the creek forever and when he went to school at Dungworth Primary and Bradfield Secondary it’s fair to say he wasn’t the best scholar.
“I’m dyslexic, so I really struggled.” he said. “I was the class idiot, I was told I would never get anywhere, I was stupid.
âI felt miserable at school and left when I was 16 to work as an apprentice carpenter. “
Fortunately, Andrew had always been good with his hands and enjoyed the carpentry job when school became a problem again.
âI was sent to college, so my nightmare was revisited,â he says. âIf it hadn’t happened, I would have become a good carpenter because I like to work with my hands and my head.
Andrew left and found a laborious job, but found it boring. âI wanted a job that extended my imagination.
âThe work was really negative because I have to constantly exercise my brain.
âI worked on farms with dry stone walls but needed something else.
âUnfortunately, knowing that didn’t mean I knew what to do about it.
“I finally decided that working for the farms felt like being treated like one of the animals, so I settled down and worked for myself as a dry stone mason.”
At the time, he was in his twenties and was thinking about stone all the time.
âI had a fascination with it, he had always been there but I never let him come to the surface. I thought I would like to work with stone, you can feel something there, there is a past, there is color and texture.
âI thought you could put patterns in a wall. Once you’ve built a wall that’s it, but I thought there was an opportunity to be more experimental.
âA farmer would ask me to rebuild 2-300 meters of wall, which may have been done hundreds of years ago and you never found a signature.
âI thought it was sad because a signing is a sign of pride and it was the Eureka moment of my life.
âI had never carved a stone before then, so one night I took a piece home, carved a simple stone face and put it back into the wall. This is how I became Stoneface.
âWhat it did was show me that if I can have an image in my head I can create anything in stone. I started to think about it and made a sculpture called Naked, sculpted in a foot and a half fatter, I realized I could sculpt a sculpture.
So, in his late twenties, the father of three started sculpting, paying for it in a landscape gardening business. But he still hadn’t found what he was looking for.
“I just got confused but what I had was an urge to buy a wood, it was something inside of me.”
The urge continued to burn and in 2011 a chance encounter gave him an opportunity.
âI started to actively search because there were several woods for sale.
âI was in the Stannington stores when the woman who owned the Storrs Wood was there. I knew her and I just said, âAre you okay? You wouldn’t want to sell your lumber, would you?
Andrew won’t say how much he paid because he doesn’t like to talk about money. Fair enough, but as a guide, a wood in Wharncliffe Side has sold this year for Â£ 40,500.
âNot as much! I had some money saved but nowhere near enough to pay the full price.
âI gave what I had on deposit and tried to raise the rest as a mortgage, but I already had one, so I had to get overdraft.
âIt almost killed me, but it was the only way to raise money. Life is like that. I wanted to and if I hadn’t done what would I do?
âSo I have this solid wood and a huge find! I had to work!”
Fortunately, this comes easily. ” I’m always working. If I work 40 hours for a living, I still work 40 hours in the woods.
âIt was never bought with the intention of making it a business, they work for me as a person. The landscape has created things that I like.
Andrew’s work is in demand, with his most expensive piece selling for Â£ 25,000. âI want everyone to buy my stuff, but I have a price range that starts at Â£ 100. You can pay anything after that.
And the piece he’s most proud of is Naked, which started it all. âIt has to do with a lot of things. It is a female form in a fetal position, just in the process of unfolding. It’s a self-portrait, me curled up in this stone, almost reborn in sculpture.
âThere are songs that I’m not happy with because I’m my own biggest critic. When I’m done I only see flaws, but time heals these scars and I can let them go. Andrew is helped by his son Tom, 27, who runs Stoneface. “He’s the mastermind of business, he got that from his mother.”
Together they created a new website andrewvickersart.com to showcase Stoneface’s work.
It shows a sense of confidence, rightly asserting that Andrew is now internationally recognized for his powerful, evocative and often spiritual stone carving art, inspired by the wonder of nature that surrounds him.
The website adds that his art now graces the homes and gardens of clients around the world, including rock and movie stars, politicians and entrepreneurs.
So it seems Andrew is happy. âI feel so privileged to have what I have and to do what I do.
And of course, he does it where it all began. âI love Sheffield. It is the most beautiful place. You don’t have to go to the Peak District – Loxley Valley, Rivelin Valley, just amazing and beautiful. â