Meet the sculptor helping Buxton commemorate its quarrying history

Lorraine Botterill has a close bond with the statue of Jack the Limeworker in Buxton’s Grin Low Woods – she was the sculptor who created him.

Saturday, 4th December 2021, 6:28 pm
Lorraine Botterill at work

And Lorraine will now be heading back to the area to create a female companion for Jack, after the money was raised thanks to a Buxton Advertiser campaign.

A sculptor for more than four decades, Lorraine began teaching secondary school pupils after completing her art degree. She completed a chainsaw sculpture course in 1999.

“Since then I’ve never looked back,” she said.

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In 2007 she gave up her previous job to take up sculpting full time. Her work has taken her all over the world, participating in competitions in Europe, Canada and America.

“I’ve had a life I would never have had if I stayed teaching,” she said. “I’ve been to different countries and met different people all because of my sculpting which is amazing when you stop and think about it.

“I’m part of a community of artists and creative people all across the world.

“It was tough being away from my children but as they’ve got older they understand my work better.”

Lorraine was commissioned in 2015 by owners of Grin Low Woods, Buxton Civic Association (BCA) to create a series of sculptures ranging from the small woodland creatures to the much-loved Jack.

She said: “I love Jack – he’s such a character. I also did the Neolithic hunter and deer near the Poole’s Cavern buildings.

“My son is a very tall, strapping, hairy man and perfect for the hunter and I even got him to model for me so I could study poses.

“There is a lot of my son in the the hunter’s face. When you are carving you can’t create faces that you have never seen so you do tend to pull in the features of people you know.

“Jack is based on an old school friend who I’m still in touch with.”

Lorraine likes to know where the wood she is using has come from and says Jack came from a Cedar tree near Ashbourne.

Back in the spring Jack was targeted by vandals who took a chunk out of his back and carved anti-Semitic graffiti in to his leg and forehead.

“It was horrible to hear he had been attacked.

“You put your soul in to pieces and then to have it ruined by people is very disheartening. A lot of my pieces are out in the open so you have to put your trust in people that they will stay as you created them but sadly it’s not always the case.”

Following Jack’s attack the public rallied together and raised more than £1,500 to pay for Lorraine to repair him.

BCA had always wanted to give Jack a female companion but had been unable to raise the money so the Advertiser launched a fundraising campaign in May.

As well as generous donations from Tarmac, The Institute of Quarrying and the Sattherthwaite Bequest the public got behind this campaign and within months the total topped £4,000.

The new statue will be dedicated to all the women who have played their part in the area’s rich quarrying history.

Lorraine, 63, said: “I have a lot of passion for this project. I’m a woman carver in a man’s world.

“I was at a chainsawing carving competition in Canada once and I was the only woman.

“So I owned the fact I was a woman and carved the strong and powerful Queen Boudicca.

“Being a woman in the quarrying industry during the wars or when they worked the hills would not have been easy.

“Women have been written out of the history books and that’s wrong so I think this will be a great tribute to the women of the past and I’m looking forward to doing it.”Lorraine’s Sheffield-based studio is currently full of creations for a project for Wimbledon FC so it could be June before she’s able to start work on the Buxton project.

“I know it’s a long time away but I don’t want people to think their money has been forgotten.

“I think it’s brilliant the community have come together once again to raise the money to create this permanent reminder of the town’s quarrying industry.”

Lorraine has already spoken to BCA about the new statue and added: “We have been floating ideas around already and I was originally thinking of doing a statue to honour the women during the war.

“But then with more research I’ve found Victorian women working with a skirt over their trousers, in hard-toe boots – but pointy and narrow ones not like the comfortable wide ones the men were wearing – and they were even quarrying in a bustle!

“So whether by the choice of the women to still look fashionable or the rule of the men we don’t know but it was certainly an eye-opening picture of what women went through to work in the quarries.”