First published: Summer 2023


On a hill overlooking an English seaside town, a fisherman has created a shrine to ancient deities and to the stones beneath his feet


“They’re slightly bemused,” says Rory McCormack of his fellow allotment owners. “They’re not expecting to see a gateway of stone monsters guarding a ramshackle shed.” McCormack, a trained dry-stone waller and the last fisherman to run a boat from Brighton beach, on England’s south coast, is talking about the imposing flint-knapped statues of ancient fertility gods that are dotted around his small vegetable patch.


Priapus, guardian of orchards and gardens was McCormack’s first allotment creation and overlooks the town of Brighton


He explains that the concept of filling his hillside allotment with gods developed over time and that his original intention was just to build a powerful standing figure “enjoying being out in nature and looking out to sea”. That figure became a representation of pagan god Priapus, guardian of orchards and gardens. Tauret, the Egyptian hippopotamus goddess, Bes, the god of childbirth, sexuality and humour, and a Mexican fire-god (a brazier doubling-up as a bird table) followed soon after.


A watchful vulture perches on the head of the Egyptian god Bes


“I haven’t slavishly copied anything. They’re my versions of well-known ancient gods, often taking salient features from votive pieces or early-Greek and Etruscan bronzes,” McCormack says.


A version of Pan, Greek god of wild flocks and shepherds


He is known locally for his flint grotto (Raw Vision #93) which stands on Brighton beach. A packed group of whimsical stone and cement figures, it includes a seagull wearing a Cardinal’s mitre, a magnificent brick orangutan, and a 10-foot totem pole of pebbles. He built the works in an small area he cordoned off on the beach to protect his fishing equipment. When he ran out of space there, he began building figures on his allotment, using stones and other materials transported from the beach. Each statue takes about three months to make, with him working three or so hours a day.




This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #115.

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