Awestruck by the sight of a Grinling Gibbons carving in a London church, David Esterly chose to dedicate his life to the art its physical control, intricate beauty and intellectual demands. Forty years later, he is the foremost practitioner of Gibbonss forgotten technique, which revolutionised ornamental sculpture in the late 1600s. After a fire at Hampton Court Palace in 1986 destroyed much of Gibbonss masterpiece, the job fell to David Esterly to restore his idols work to its former glory. It turned out to be the most challenging year in Esterlys life, forcing him to question his abilities and delve deeply into what it means to make something well. Exploring the determination, concentration and skill that go into achieving any form of excellence, Esterly breathes life into the world of wood carving and deftly illustrates the union of man and material necessary to create a lasting work of art.
David Esterly is the author of Grinling Gibbons and the Art of Carving and curated the Victoria and Albert Museum exhibition on Gibbons in 1998. He has been a professional wood carver since the 1970s, and has been profiled in the Financial Times, New Yorker and The New York Times.