A successful first Wells Stone Carving Festival

I’m delighted to say that the inaugural Wells Stone Carving Festival was a huge success!


Our 18 stone carvers produced sculptures of fantastic quality working with the blocks of Hartham Park bath stone kindly donated by Lovell Stone Group and sawn by Wells Cathedral Stonemasons in Cheddar.


Artists from across the country came to compete at the festival and produced some amazing pieces to fit the brief of ‘Medieval England’ in just 2.5 days. It was brilliant to make new connections with such a great group of talented masons, carvers and artists.


Over £6,000 was raised at the auction of the sculptures, held on a very hot bank holiday Monday afternoon. I would like to thank local auctioneer Allen Mechen for hosting the auction and doing a great job of explaining the craftsmanship and value of the pieces.


The profits of the festival will be donated to the Bishop’s Barn, as the trustees of the medieval tithe barn – one of only a small number still standing in the UK – seek a purpose for the building that will bring in a sustainable revenue to cover its upkeep.


Before the auction kicked off, leader of the council and trustee of the barn Harvey Siggs presented the three prizes for the best carvings as judged by the public, the artists themselves and the trustees. The winners were:


Public Vote (£250 tool voucher): Jem Hobbs of Cliveden Conservation

Artists’ Choice (£100 tool voucher): Tom Clark, a Martock based stone carver

Trustees’ Choice (£100 tool voucher): Alex Waddell of Winchester Cathedral


Local firms Glastonbury Marquees and Montana Scaffolding provided the marquee and bankers, while the Worshipful Company of Masons and tool supplier G Gibson & Co provided the tool voucher prizes.


Tea and delicious cakes were provided by the Creative Pantry while John Candler of the Somerset Guild of Craftsmen managed the ‘have a go’ stand.


Having competed in a few stone carving festivals myself in the past I was keen to establish an event in Wells given the strong connection the city has with this ancient trade.


The feedback from the public has been hugely positive and encouraging, and our ambition will be to run the event again in the future.


The standard of carving was extremely high and the public have snapped up some brilliant pieces of art which will likely only ever increase in value.


We couldn’t have done the event without the support of all of our sponsors, supporters, volunteers, our artists and of course the public who came along throughout the weekend to see the transformation of a six-sided block of stone into a unique and creative work of art.

Wells Stone Carving Festival: Three weeks to go

We’re just three weeks away from kicking off the inaugural Wells Stone Carving Festival and it’s all systems go.


It’s been a busy few weeks – and it’s set to get busier – but I’m so pleased with the fantastic artists we have lined up. They are some of the best carvers in the UK and I can’t wait to see their interpretation of the brief ‘Medieval England’.


Members of the public will have a great opportunity to purchase one of the finished sculptures at the auction at 2pm – a hand carved, unique piece of art for your home or garden.


And what’s more, all proceeds from the event will go to The Bishop’s Barn, Wells Recreation Ground Trust – helping to ensure this medieval tithe barn finds a sustainable future at the heart of the community in Wells.


I want to also say a huge thank you to our sponsors and supporters The Bishop’s Barn, Lovell Stone Group, Wells Cathedral Stonemasons, G Gibson & Co and the Worshipful Company of Masons. Without their support it would have been impossible to get the festival off the ground.


It’s brilliant to see local companies and those further afield investing and supporting an arts festival that brings stone carving to the masses and enables the craftsmen and women who practice this art to showcase their skills.


I’m currently carving the raffle prize for the event and there’s still lots to organise but if you want the latest updates you can follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.


Or check out the website: www.wellsstonecarvingfestival.com.

Stone carving festival coming to Wells

I'm thrilled to announce that I'll be hosting a new festival in my home city of Wells later this year - the Wells Stone Carving Festival.

Taking place over the May Day bank holiday weekend, the festival will bring together a small group of talented stonemasons and carvers from across the UK who will each create a sculpture in just 2.5 days.

They will be provided with the same piece of local limestone and given the brief of Medieval England: Knights, Bishops & Kings from which to draw their inspiration. Expect an array of sculptures or reliefs covering everything from heraldry to the church, crusades to the crown, grotesques, peasants and iconography - both traditional and contemporary interpretations.

The festival is a great opportunity for the small number of craftspeople still practicing this ancient skill today to showcase their skill and creativity to the general public, and it will take place in a city which was built using the same methods centuries ago.

We'll have some food, music and talks alongside the carving so they'll be plenty to see and do, and they'll even be an opportunity to pick up a mallet and chisel yourself and try your hand at masonry, letter cutting or carving.

The final sculptures will be auctioned off on Monday afternoon, so if you see something you like you can place a bid, either through a sealed bid or live in the auction. Or you can also buy a raffle ticket if you want to win a carving that I will create especially for the festival.

The festival will take place at The Bishop's Barn, a medieval tithe barn located in the recreation ground in the centre of the city. The Wells Recreation Ground Trust is running a programme of events at this year to bring this underappreciated and underused historic building back into the heart of the community.

The trust wants to give this unique space a purpose and ensure it can generate enough revenue each year to ensure its long-term future and cover the maintenance of the building and the wider recreation ground.

If you want to find out more about the festival or you want to get involved then take a look at the website - www.wellsstonecarvingfestival.com - or drop me a line directly.

I look forward to announcing more details soon.