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
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.