Hello! I’m Jan Campbell, the creator of Avocado Stone Faces. I live in County Mayo in the West of Ireland. I am happiest when in nature; exploring forests, the bog and beaches. I truly adore carving and feel that it’s a necessary mode of communication for me, one that I’ve only accessed relatively recently. I feel connected with the earlier human inhabitants of the earth when I practice this ancient art form. I taught myself to carve through instinct, intuition and experimentation, and have received no formal training in the art. For this, I am grateful as it allows the process to feel entirely personal to me.
I started my unusual hobby in 2014. I was making my lunch and opened a perfectly ripe avocado as a special treat. It struck me that the stone I found inside the avocado was a particularly beautiful one. I had never really paid special attention to any avocado stone before. It dawned on me that I was holding a substantial object in my hand, one with a lot of potential. It felt like a shame to just throw it into the compost. After deliberating over it for a few minutes, I wiped the stone clean and put it into the pocket of my raincoat.
A few days later I cycled into the countryside in light rain. When I sat down for a rest, my hands went to my pockets and I found the avocado stone sitting inside. I held it in my palm and studied it very closely. I felt a funny connection to it as my fingers explored the tree-shaped network of veins on the surface. I wondered what I could do with it, and impulsively settled on the decision that I would keep it forever, like a secret pet who reassures me from my pocket.
The avocado stone accompanied me for a week or two until I took it out one day and saw that the surface had been scratched, perhaps by my keys. I was intrigued by what I saw – a deep orange pigment had filled the scratch. I felt overwhelmingly compelled to explore further. Maybe my reassuring pocket pet was actually inside the stone, waiting patiently for me to dig him out. I gathered a random assortment of craft tools and set to work, carving the surface very slowly and carefully, studying the effect of every action I took on the stone. I couldn’t believe how satisfying an activity it was – how had I never discovered this enjoyment before? I had drawn pictures my whole life, but carving was like drawing in 3D – I had a whole extra dimension to play with! I found a gentle smiling face inside the stone. I was hooked and I went straight to the supermarket to buy more avocados. The few days while I waited for the avocados to ripen really tested my patience! My fingers were itching to find more characters inside the stones. In those early carving days, I decided to make an Instagram account devoted entirely to my new hobby, where I could essentially keep a photo diary of my carving progress. I called my account the first name that came to mind: Avocado Stone Faces.
Scroll down to see some of my works. You can see more on my Instagram account.