Onians, Richard (Lathbury) 1940-1999

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ONIANS, Richard (Lathbury) 1940-1999

(Dick Onians)

PERSONAL: Born May 19, 1940, in Chalfont, St. Giles, England; died 1999; married Frances Clare Critchley. Education: Attended Trinity College, Cambridge, and City and Guilds of London Art School.

CAREER: Sculptor and lecturer. City and Guilds of London Art School, Kennington, England, senior woodcarving tutor, beginning 1978.


Essential Woodcarving Techniques, Sterling Publishing (New York, NY), 1997.

Carving the Human Figure: Studies in Wood and Stone, Guild of Master Craftsman Publications (Lewes, East Sussex, England), 2001.

Author of foreword, Woodcarving: Tools, Material, and Equipment, by Chris Pye, Guild of Master Craftsman Publications (Lewes, East Sussex, England), 2002.

SIDELIGHTS: Richard Onians was a sculptor in wood and stone whose work has been exhibited in England and abroad and who signed his work "R.L.O." He taught the only degree-level course in traditional carving available in England at the City and Guilds of London Art School beginning in the 1970s.

Onians's Essential Woodcarving Techniques is a guide by the master craftsman on every aspect of his art. It introduces the necessary tools, provides instruction on sharpening techniques, and offers guidelines on choosing the best wood for a project, including advice on moisture content and seasoning. Onians discusses chip carving, architectural moldings, foliage, and linenfold carving, with each successive chapter building on information provided in previous chapters. He instructs on the carving of abstract shapes, animals, and the human figure, and the techniques used in low and high relief. Barb Siddiqui wrote for WoodCentral online that the book is particularly useful in Onians's discussions of "undercutting to make use of light and shadow, when details cut into the surface can be too much, and how to use edges to suggest movement."

Onians opens Carving the Human Figure: Studies in Wood and Stone with a review of the history of the human form as it has been used in religion, ritual, erotica, for political ends, and as a tribute to the dead. Onians then discusses human anatomy, its muscular and skeletal structures, and how differences can be seen with aging and condition and in race and gender. The next chapter considers carving the head, with special sections on the parts of the head, including the nose, ear, eye, eyelid, and eyebrow. Each of the body parts are examined in detail in following chapters, and then the carving of the complete figure, the clothed figure, and the figure in relief are covered. Library Journal's Daniel Lombardo noted that Onians "condenses information about a daunting art form into a lively yet thorough manual." "The book is well-written, easily read, and very nicely illustrated by a very knowledgeable and talented author," wrote Bill Britton for Woodworker's Gazette online.



Library Journal, March 15, 2002, Daniel Lombardo, review of Carving the Human Figure: Studies in Wood and Stone, p. 79.


WoodCentral,http://www.woodcentral.com/ (June 6, 2002), Barb Siddiqui, review of Essential Woodcarving Techniques.

Woodworker's Gazette,http://www.woodworking.org/ (February 10, 2002), Bill Britton, review of Carving the Human Figure.*