Promising Young Apprentice on the Common Ground DARSET Project.

Stone Carving Workshops

most recent workshop in weymouth

During the Workshops in Stone Carving for Beginners during the Dorset Art Weeks event, I was excited to see the passion and addictive nature of hand carving by the first time students.

Stone carving Taster Courses Weymouth

Budding First Time Sculptors At The Taster Workshops


One particular Student was so enthused that within a week she acquired stone carving chisels, stone and a sturdy table made by her husband. Now happily chipping away in the garden on the next sculpture. Others asking for dates for future workshops to advance their skills and create other unique sculptures.

It was also pointed out the therapeutic qualities and directness of hand carving. Which reminded me of my earlier years as an Artist discovering Stone for the first time. I had worked a lot in clay but hated the plasticity and the apprehensive moments of waiting to see your piece coming out of the kiln intact or in pieces. Stone carving happens there and then.

earlier Workshops

Stone relief carving of Romans.

Relief Carving created by French Primary School Pupils

This was a workshop I set up with a local Primary School in France. The children were working on a project about the Romans and an aqueduct that they built that ran through their village. The border depicts the course of the aqueduct from Uzes to Nimes in the Provence. An engineering feat, with the “Pont du Gard” being its most spectacular part.

The children carved as a team, no preconceptions lots of passion and sweat. We decided to paint the stone as indeed the Romans did to brighten up their final oeuvre. Can you spot the Comet?


The young Sculptors carving their Creation

The young Stone Sculptors carving their Creation

The DARSET project was set up by “Common Ground”. Taking sculpture out into rural areas, connecting it to the landscape and local communities. I asked the schools involved to research any stones that were found in their locality. They might research back to Stone Age settlements or the history of fossils.

Again the budding sculptors carved with lots of passion and weren’t afraid to hit hard with their hammers.

Young stone carver.

Pupil working on the little details.

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”
― Pablo Picasso



Taster Portland Stone Carving Workshops For Dorset Art Weeks in Weymouth

First stone carving workshops

Art With a View Exhibition Garden

View over the Garden to Portland Harbour.

With the first workshops finished awaiting the next. So many talented sculptors out there. The weather held and dare I say it? It was nearly too hot! The setting looking across Portland Harbour towards Portland was inspiring. Especially as we were carving the beautiful Portland stone.

As usual, there was the normal nervousness of my students, confronted by the stone and the carving techniques to learn. But within a few minutes, I could see their confidence growing. The sound of chisels being tapped, a music to my ears.

Of course, there were the usual little accidents, a few chips here and there. The Celtic knotwork pieces needed a little bit of unravelling.

celtic heart

celtic heart

Under? Over? But we did succeed with a little perseverance. I never succeeded in getting my Knots badge at the Sea Scouts!

Stone carving Taster Courses Weymouth

Budding First Time Sculptors At The Taster Workshops





So after just a couple of hours, the masterpieces were finished and I think for complete beginners they did brilliantly. I think they surprised themselves. With one student taking on some small blocks to continue their stone carving journey.

Being in such a beautiful place was truly inspirational. Also being surrounded by beautiful Artwork in the Art With a View Exhibition. Fantastic paintings by the owner Olivia Nurrish, Jewellery and Prints by Clare Buckle & Andrea Frankham Huges. Sculpture by myself John Davey.

Although I have been carving for over 35yrs I,m still learning and I feel privileged to be able to pass on my passion for stone carving. P.S. A bit of future competition?

Art with a view

I was also so pleased to see my sculptures in this particular spot. My sail sculptures overlooking the harbour and Portland. The only problem being as the wind changed direction I had to turn the sculptures to be in the right direction! Only joking.

Sail VII. Portland & Savernake Stone.

Sail VII. Portland & Savernake Stone.

So wherever you are, if you’re interested in Stone Carving, find your local Sculptor who runs workshops and book yourselves a session. I,m sure you’ll be chuffed.

Also, Olivia does rent out accommodation for more details visit her site. Glenthorne.

My Most Recent Abstract Stone Sculpture


I’ve just finished carving this abstract stone sculpture in beautiful Portland Basebed. Really pleased with the result. It started off with an elliptical shape I appear to use quite regularly. As people have favourite colours for no apparent reason,( mine is blue) I have my favourite shapes!

Abstract Sculpture of Shield Form in Stone.

.”Shield II” Portland Stone, Hardwood. 81.5 x 36 x 26 cms.

Its only after the carving of the sculpture that I can stand back and see the influences, forms that have inspired me. Surfboards, tribal shields, leaves. Take your pick?

So I,m pretty busy at the moment getting ready for the Dorset Art Weeks in a couple of months showing with other talented local artists. Carving on my days off from working as a Health Care Assistant and when it isn’t snowing!

The year has started off quite well, showing my sculptures at different galleries. Fingers crossed! But as usual, there were a few hiccups. My good old Honda generator gave up on me, full of stone dust and obviously tired from my lack of attention.( Like topping it up with oil).

Then I decided to try my hand at carving Slate. I love the tight grain and the bluey-grey colour. Everything was going quite well as I carved the first stone only to find at the final polish that there was a small crack running through the middle! Well as I can be quite stubborn I started on another slab, checking it beforehand. Only to find another crack!

I then decided to change to another stone and found some Irish Limestone which carved beautifully. Heres the result.

“Leap” Irish & Portland Limestone

Abstract Stone sculpture in shape of fish.

“Leap” Irish and Portland Stone. 37.6 x 32.4 x 11.6 cms.

Looking forward to any feedback and I hope you enjoy this little insight into my creative processes. Feel free to share and hopefully you might find the time to see the finished abstract sculptures during the Dorset Art Weeks. I will be animating a few taster stone carving workshops if you fancy a try? Dates and times to be fixed. Watch this space.


My Good Friend Joseph Smith

While living in France I was lucky enough to meet this great Artist Joseph Smith. A master of technique and creativity. He worked in many media,s, stone, wood, clay. This little painting was inspired by random splashes and shapes on watercolour paper.

One of his favourite techniques while having his breakfast was to place a piece of paper under his coffee cup and then use any stains or splashes as a catalyst for his imagination.

Using coffee, tea and watercolours to create some beautiful paintings. He also used red onions, boiling them to make a reddish wash. I guess there’s a lot of natural pigments which you can make yourself.

Watercolour by Joseph Smith

Minotaur I

In Joe,s own words.

“Through various series in my work I have attempted to put into more realistic proportion man’s relationship to nature, the animal kingdoms…and to himself.”

“I wish for my works to allow viewers to hopefully re-examine their own relative importance in relationship with the vast natural wonder that we are actually infinitesimal within..”

If you’d like to see more of his brilliant artwork please visit his website.

Portrait of the Artist By His Son

My Son Sean drew this portrait of me when he was ten, in 2006. I think he,s really captured the young Artist! Especially the Celtic Nose! It always amazes me how young children have that creative talent, no preconceptions or limitations.

Drawing of the artist by Son

Portrait of John by his Son Sean

Pablo Picasso famously said ” Every child is an Artist the problem is how to remain an Artist once we grow up.”

While I was living in France working as a stone mason to make ends meet. I would frequently take Sean with me to help on the building sites. As you can see from the following photo!

At first I thought he would slow me down, but in actual fact he was more meticulous. Jointing stones precisely, giving the concrete mixer a good clean and many other jobs which helped me along.

Son helping on Site

My Son Sean helping me!

This particular project was to carve and build two pillars for ” Le Chateau de la Commanderie” in a village called St Siffret in the Province.( A Knights Templar Castle.)

A lot of preparation was needed for the pillars to support the heavy iron gates which were installed later. Making one reinforced concrete foundation that  crossed from one pillar to the other, consolidating their rigidity.

I look back at this special time working alongside my son and realise how important it was.

They grow up so fast. 

My Son Weymouth

Sean, Weymouth 2017

Art Trophy

how to become an artist

Reminiscing over my Artistic past. Winning 1st Prize for art at the St John’s Youth Club in Belfast at the age of ten. Never been prouder and still have the trophy taking pride of place on my mantelpiece! It is a bit battered, a bit like myself! But it gave me the incentive to carry on.

O. k. some may say it was a fix as my parents and close family where Youth Leaders there! I would just like to clarify on this point that no bribery was involved. No washing dishes for Mum or washing Dads car. ( Actually he didn’t have one !) So you can see it was just natural talent!

Art Trophy

John Davey. St Johns Youth Club. First
Art Winner 1971

Today I must admit that every time I finish a sculpture, I feel I,ve won a prize. The chance to have the tools,materials and time to create. Also to be lucky enough to meet people who take enjoyment from my work and those that adopt them having them in their homes.

I still cherish my old trophy and at the time it was like winning Gold at the Olympics. I wonder how many of us have a prize from our childhood that really touched us? A medal for running, a Cup for Football, something really special that gave us recognition and the passion to continue.

Here’s to all the people who take the time to pass on their passion to future generations, Coaches, Youth Club Workers, Teachers, Parents, Friends. Bravo.


Two Sculptures Finished. Another Started.

After the mayhem of disorder these two sculptures pulled themselves together!

Following my series of Sail sculptures, this one is more angled, leaning back. Much more like a Windsurfing sail. Changing its dynamic. Remember sailing in Portland Harbour in a Force 7-8, leaning back into the wind, trying to read the surface of the water for the next gust. Frequently misjudging and being catapulted head over head unable to release the harness in time!

” Sail VII ” Portland and Savernake Stone.

This Sculpture ” Tale ” in Carrara Marble and Black Granite took a bit of carving. Learning how to cut and polish harder stones. Working through several grades of abrasives to get the final polish. Really pleased with the result. The form goes back to playing with circular curves, bisecting each other. I think its a bit like the shapes of Butterfly Wings but you may see other things?

” Tale ” Carrara Marble & Black Granite


Some Abstract Paintings For a Change

These series of abstract paintings, explore a constantly recurring theme which I find fascinating. Playings with mathematical systems, geometric patterns, order and disorder; all the time setting boundaries and limitations within which these concepts function.

The initial idea often stems from observation of forms, patterns and structures in the natural and man-made world, reflecting the diversity with which we are surrounded.

Materials chosen have their own identity and will dictate the progression and outcome of the piece. What properties do they possess? Do the break, split, bent? Can they be cut and shaped, added to or taken away from?

By combining traits and characteristics within the material I construct reliefs using these ’chance’ findings, at the same time applying the rules of symmetry asymmetry, repetition, sequence, combining these with the key elements of art, colour, pattern, composition, space, form and texture.


Sail Sculptures

A few of the latest Sculptures inspired by my sailing days teaching windsurfing at Sandesfoot beach in Weymouth. A little bit of freestyle and when the wind really blew, racing across Portland Harbour, negotiating the gusts, salt encrusted, wind in my hair. ( Which I had then! ) Really enjoy carving these. The fragility of the stone, the mixture of curves.

So if your free, come and see them at Art@Eype 14-16th July. Lots of other beautiful art by local Artists.

Art@Eype Exhibition 14-16th July

Just a little taster of sculptures I will be showing at Art@Eype. Usual hectic time, collecting sculptures from the previous exhibition. Finishing of new ones. Might start to make sculptures in Balsa wood! Not really, but making stone sculptures is keeping me fit ( to drop!) Think I deserve some liquid refreshment. Enjoy this little selection.

So hoping to see you there, lots of other styles of art from other local talented Artists. Stunning venue and landscapes.

Poster for Exhibition

Poster for Exhibition Art@Eype