Morris Memorial Bench, Morris Park

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Client: Connie and Raymond Morris

Location: Stockport, IA, United States

Completion date: 2021

Artwork budget: $23,400

Project Team

Sculpture design, project management

Chris Bennett

Bennett Studio

Co-Designer & Client

Connie Morris

Connie Morris

3-D modeling, 3-D prints

Kevin Galloway

Across the Board Creations

project photos

Werner Elmker

Elmker Photography

installation

Richard Daughtery

Van Buren County Conservation Board

Overview

A memorial bench design request was given to me the summer of 2020. The client wanted to have a bench created, versus a more traditional gravestone marker.

As we have been friends for several years, the couple were acquainted with my body of work and knew I could produce sculptural designs in various materials and formats.

I presented several bench concepts to them, all of which were rejected. During my project research I stumbled across a naturally shaped segment of granite that worked perfectly as a bench. It was “frying pan” shaped with the “handle” end supported by a separate piece of granite.

They were excited about the find because they wanted a natural shape and not a conventional bench. The stone also served as a format to display a carved relief tableau of a lake, pasture, woodlands, and wildlife. They are particularly fond of the landscape and wildlife surrounding them in Van Buren County. An additional carving of a cross and stars representing their faith and children, was added to the support stone.

The seven-foot-long stone image with carved reliefs, were recreated by Across the Board Creations, according to my specifications and direction.

Goals

Connie and Raymond Morris chose nearby Morris Park as the installation site. The public park, north of Stockport, Iowa, is named for their ancestors, whose original homestead and acreage is there with a cabin, a barn with outbuildings, a farm equipment museum, a campground, and a picturesque pond.

The irregular shaped granite bench was installed by Richard Daughtery of the Van Buren County Conservation Board, on a concrete footing, midway up the western hill overlooking the pond. The memorial bench is placed amongst a shade of oaks but appears especially attractive in the mornings when the sun is rising over the pond until noon.

Morris park is somewhat secluded, but considered one of Van Buren County’s scenic outdoor gems. The Morris Memorial bench with its natural shape and landscape/wildlife relief carving is an apt addition for tourist review and relaxation.

The natural shape of the stone and the bucolic imagery of the sculpted relief appear as a perfect addition to the surroundings.

Process

Bennett Studio Chris Bennett, ATBC Kevin Galloway, Van Buren County Commission Richard Daughtery, Werner Elmker photographer.

In considering the design of a memorial bench, I submitted several concepts using a traditional bench shape premiering various carved images. Eventually the client chose an irregularly shaped granite stone image for the preferred format.

Several renditions of a landscape and wildlife relief, as well as one with a cross and stars, were submitted for client approval. They were given ample opportunity to co-design the imagery.

I forwarded a concept drawing to Across the Board Creations. They selected a granite stone from a quarry to be shaped like the stone I envisioned. The drawings of the intended relief designs were forwarded as well.

They shaped the stone to specification. I wanted a carved “topographical” relief to be inserted into the side of the stone. They sent my drawing to be 3-D modeled in sculptural relief.

Once modeled in 3-D relief the company attempted to carve the highly detailed imagery into a granite insert. ATBC had to invent a method to carve the detailed relief. The granite insert was substituted with a composite granite material, and successfully carved.

Additional Information

I enjoyed working with my client Connie and Raymond Morris, to design their memorial bench. Connie was cooperative with me, as well as creative, with her vision. She chose the following scripture to be engraved on the stone: Job 23:10…….But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. I have worked with Across the Board Creations on several projects. They have a very broad scope of techniques and experience at their disposal. They had not carved a small highly detailed sculpture relief with their methods, and subsequently invented a method to meet the need. Werner Elmker has worked with me to successfully to photograph and video several of my regional sculpture installations.