"There is a great community here in Edinburgh." – Previous winner Alasdair Thomson on his unique creative practice

14 November 2022

It's hard to believe at first that Alasdair Thomson's creations are made of stone.

Stepping into his new upgraded workshop on a brisk autumn morning, you could almost mistake it for a clothes designer's studio – if not for the carving tools on the table. There are immaculate Nike sneakers of the purest marble and delicately draped clothing that looks more like silk than stonework.

Alasdair won the 2015 Creative Edinburgh Award for Creativity and has gone from strength to strength since – even designing one of our trophies. We had the pleasure to catch up with him and find out all about his career and practice in Edinburgh.

CE: Tell us a bit about your creative practice. How did you get started?

Alasdair: I first became interested in stone sculpture during the course of my art history degree, which I studied here at the University of Edinburgh. After my degree I decided to pursue my interest in stone carving by apprenticing an American sculptor in Connecticut and then completing my diploma in sculpture, in Siena, Italy. I have maintained a studio practice here in Edinburgh since 2011.

CE: What have you been up to since winning a Creative Edinburgh Award?

Alasdair: I have continued to work diligently to build my business and reputation over many years, and have the good fortune to include Nike, Puma, giants of the fashion world, and professional sportspersons as my clients. I have also gotten married and become a parent!

CE: What do you think are the best things about having a creative career in Edinburgh?

Alasdair: I choose to live in Edinburgh because of the quality of life that it offers me. The world is so connected now that I do not need to live in one of the world’s art centres, such as London, New York or Miami, to be a part of the artistic community there. Social media is amazing for that. And when it comes to exhibiting, even though my work is often very heavy, it is relatively inexpensive to ship around the world for exhibitions or sales.

There is also a great creative community here in Edinburgh, specifically the Creative Edinburgh community, which is a valuable resource to me as an independent practitioner who gets inspiration and creative sustenance from interacting with other creative individuals.

CE: What achievements are you most proud of?

Alasdair: I’m proud of having been an independent artist for over a decade and I am proud of my client roster, and I’m proud of doing all the hard work to make all that happen.

I am particularly proud of having been asked by Nike to carve them a sculpture for Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta, GA, in 2019.

CE: What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a career in stonework?

Alasdair: It’s not really something one can dabble in easily, so my advice to anyone interested in carving stone is to enrol on a programme that will allow significant exposure to a wide variety of tools and stone and to the process carving. There is significant expense in acquiring the tools, materials and workspace one needs before beginning to carve a stones sculpture, so that should be considered, as well as the toll that it takes on your body, before embarking on a career in this type of work. I'm more than happy to direct people towards stone carving programmes.

CE: What are you up to next? Do you have any exciting projects to share?

Alasdair: I have some ideas around the use of digital technology and processes in making sculpture which I am excited to explore, as well as a couple of politically-driven projects which I am eager two embark upon in the New Year.