History on a stick

Kopano Dibakwane

Que Durkan, from Graskop, is about to realise a long-kept dream of preserving the artistry that defines a portion of the Ripon Cathedral in Yorkshire, England. The cathedral is famous for rare medieval woodcarvings located within the historical building. The carvings date back to the 15th Century and were carefully designed by carvers like William Bromflet, Robert Dowff, Radulf Turret, amongst others.

Some of the artwork inside the Ripon Cathedral includes an open presentation of subliminal Christian messages carved on the Misericords (mercy seats). They are told through imagery borrowed from folk tales such as, Alice in Wonderland.

Durkan sought the expertise of Graskop artist, Rainos Tawonameso, famous for carving unique walking sticks, to capture the various features of the cathedral on one object. He specialises in narrative carvings using the mahogany oak to create walking sticks laced with a touch of visual poetry. Some of Tawonameso’s work was presented to famous figures like the Mother of Queen Elizabeth II, The Pope, Nelson Mandela at the Robben Island, Olusegun Obasanjo (former Nigerian president), the late Levy Patrick Mwanawasa (former Zambian president), Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe president), Ketumile Masire (former Botswana leader) and other well-known leaders.

“I commissioned Rainos to design a stick that I’m going to present to the Ripon Cathedral. It will be designed in oak from the United Kingdom. I would like Rainos to accompany me to present the finished stick to the cathedral.” Said Durkan.

Tawonameso said that he is honoured to be considered for such a sentimental task. He said that the Ripon Cathedral stick will be amongst the last sticks he plans to produce.

“I’m doing a limited edition of the sticks; up to so far I have designed 41. The price of every stick goes up with 5% and it’s not negotiable, this is simply because it takes a lot of work and time to complete one stick. I’m happy for the recognition,” said Tawonameso.


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