John Davey Stone Sculptures

Bridport Art Exhibition Treasure Planet 2020

Artwey Group Exhibition

Allsop Gallery at Bridport Arts Centre

20th Feb-21st March

Fantastic art exhibition at the Bridport Arts Centre by the Weymouth based Art Group, Artwey. Really pleased to be taking part in this exhibition with such a varied style of art as well as many different media. Acrylic, Oils, Pastel, Ceramic, Wood, Encaustic Wax. Realistic and abstract styles catering for every taste. Also at very reasonable prices.

There is an incredible amount of work that goes into holding a group exhibition like this. I won’t mention names for fear of forgetting someone!

  • Booking the Venue
  • Contacting the Artists
  • Asking for photos, Artist Statements, Contact Details.
  • Publicity. Posters. Invitations. Press articles.
  • Organising the Stewarding.
  • Arranging, placing and hanging the works in a presentable manner.
  • Preparing the Private View. (Buying the Wine! And tasting Hic!)
  • Selling the Artworks. Receipts, card payments, cash.
  • Cleaning up afterwards.
  • Stewarding, taking care of Visitors.
  • Taking down the exhibition.
  • Tidying up.

It’s Not Just The Making.

For every artist, the pleasure is in the making of their creation. Making something from your imagination. Making it real. It never turns out as you imagined it and that’s why you do it. To find out what it may look like. As you create with the material they show their personal characters. Suggesting different possibilities. It’s this interaction that is so exciting. As a famous artist once said. ” I always do what I don’t know how to do. Because what I know how to do, I’ve already done”

After the making, you have to get your work out there. Galleries, friends, social media, Art Groups. Lots of time promoting your work and lots of perseverance. At times you may have lots of compliments but nothing sold. It takes perseverance and belief in what you are doing and to be honest I have to do it for my wellbeing. It’s part of who I am.

So getting ready for the opening night and looking forward to meeting other talented artists, friends and hopefully clients. A big thank you to Artwey and the volunteers who made this possible. If you would like to see more of my work feel free to visit my sculpture page and leave a comment. Always open to constructive interaction.

Favourite Painters

Some of My Favourite Painters

A small selection of my favourite painters whose work I adore. Would also love to have their paintings hanging on my wall! Will have to do some saving! Have to make do with reproductions.

Although in my art I work mainly with abstract shapes I do appreciate portraiture, still-lifes, landscapes. There is, first of all, that emotional response to a painting, which I think is the essential reaction.

After some time I can see the other layers and details that make them so pleasing to my senses. Their textures, geometry, composition.

Sean Scully

This is one artist whose work I discovered only a few years ago. The edges and sculptural forms are so suggestive. Reminding me of the stacked slabs of stone surrounding me, when I was working in a quarry. Also my lego days as a young child! Off course I wasn’t at all surprised later when I saw his large stone constructions.

Euan Uglow

Euan Uglow Painting is one of my favourite artists
Euan Uglow

I was lucky enough to have stumbled across Euan Uglow’s paintings on a visit to London. It was while I was studying Art at Brighton. We had to visit the big Art Exhibitions once every term. I always visited the little Art Galleries in Cork Street. It was there I was lucky enough to see his work in the real. Struck by the geometrical aspect of his images. The strong use of facets, lines.

Victor Pasmore

Painter Victor Pasmore one of my favourite painters
Painter Victor Pasmore

I particularly like this amazing British Painter. Who found a lot of his inspirations from the Cornish Landscapes. His mixture of abstract forms, lines, curves is so suggestive. Rock pools, granite outcrops. I happened upon a great documentary about his art. In particular, a section where they hid a camera in the gallery. Recording visitors conversations. There was a couple of adults who really didn’t appreciate abstract art. But luckily there were a couple of children who loved it. No preconceptions. When do we lose that innocence?

Patrick George

Patrick George one of my favourite painters.
Patrick George

As a painter from the Slade School of Art Patrick George used a certain method of measuring, constructing that remains as part of the finished painting. I find the brushstrokes and lines so sensitive. They really capture the personality of the sitter. His rendering of the light falling on his subjects is also so beautiful.

Art With a View Exhibition Garden

Learning to Carve Stone

Learning Stone Carving

I remember well the first stone I carved. Carving a Water Bowl for the Zen Garden created by the Sculptor Phillip King at the Tout Quarry Sculpture Park on Portland, Dorset. Grazing my knuckles against the rough Portland Stone. Stretching my tired muscles and becoming addicted to this beautiful medium.

So when I teach and think of the skills I’ve learnt over time. I can really relate to my students on their first Stone Carving Workshop. Learning how to hold the tools. Getting the right angle and hit from your hammer. Trying to execute your idea and making it real.

Portland Stone has its character and needs constant adjustments when carving. Being a Sedimentary Limestone its made up of tiny sea creatures, shells, changing its hardness. Around 70 Million yrs old and used to famously construct St Pauls Cathedral, designed by Sir Christopher Wren.

Students Hard At Work

These are a few examples of Stones I’ve carved over the time. Some personal Sculptures and others decorative. Carved for the restoration of certain classed buildings. The techniques are always the same. Roughing out, refining and finally finishing.

There is a real satisfaction and sense of accomplishment when you take a block of Stone and transform it into your unique design. Using hand techniques that haven’t changed from bygone times. Its very meditative and I adore the sound of stone being chipped. Music to my ears. Much nicer than the noise of machines. Although I’m sure if the Romans had electricity they would of been the first to use them!

So if you feel inspired? Why not have a go at some chipping? I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you can create.

Stone Relief Carving

Learning to Carve Stone

I remember when I first tried my hand at stone relief carving I was full of trepidation. Worried about chipping off the wrong piece. How to make a sculpture that described the forms with only using a few centimeters of depth.


As always preparation is vital. Choosing the right design. Not to complicated to begin with. Details can be added afterwards. I usually begin with a drawing, outlining the important contours. I then transfer this onto the stone.

Depending on the design I might make a template by cutting around the shape. Or by using carbon paper and tracing paper.

I select a good quality of stone. Finding the finest grain. Looking out for any signs of cracks, big shells that might make it difficult to carve.

Celtic knotwork man
Celtic knotwork man


Having a basic set of tools is all you need to begin with. Pointed chisel, flat edged chisel, claw chisel, small hammer. With each chisel, you can carve lots of different textures. ( With softer stones I find old wood carving chisels can be quite good if you’re on a small budget.)

Having transferred my design onto the stone, I then decide what areas will stand out the most. Carving around these shapes with the flat chisel. Then roughing out the depth with either the pointed or claw chisel. This is repeated several times until I’m happy with the depths.

Flower Relief Carvings
Flower Relief Carvings

Next Step

Once the profiles are in place I then begin rounding off the forms with the claw and flat ended chisels. Its quite important to keep turning your stone to see how your relief is shaping up. Depending on your light source this can really change how you see your carving.


I try and use lots of textures to accentuate the design. This helps give the illusion of depth. Some surfaces can be smoothed using sand paper. Others left with the tool-marks.Its really up to you to experiment and see the possibilities.

Stone Cross
Stone Cross

Going Forward

If you become bitten by the stone carving bug? You can always look out for Stone Carving Workshops to help you on your way and perfect your techniques. I’m still learning!

Day Stone Carving Workshops at Whitestones Portland

The Stone Carving workshops are set up for those wanting to take time, to situate, learn and find pleasure in discovering ways of expression through stone carving.

Providing starting points, encouraging the development of ideas, knowledge, skills, visual awareness and creative potential.

Stone Carving Workshops for Beginners

23rd March and the 20th April 2019


  • The Stone carving workshops will give you the opportunity to sculpt a small relief of your own design ( or by using one of my templates )  on a piece of Portland Stone.
  • The course is suitable for ages 12+
  • Tools and materials are supplied as well as protective safety glasses.
  • Appropriate clothing to be worn (i.e. enclosed shoes)
  • The stones vary in size but to give you a rough idea here are some sizes. 22 x 20cms, 18 x 22cms. If you have a design in mind and can print out different sizes that would be great.
  • Coffee & Tea supplied. 
  • If you decide to use your own design please bring images/drawings.

The cost of the one day course is £85. To reserve a place or make an enquiry you can E-mail me. or phone 07460467116

There is also a wide selection of tasty, locally sourced cakes and lunches available in the adjacent White Stones Art Café. All participants receive a 10% discount on food and drinks purchased in the Café.

Come and have a go. Let your creative side come out.

Sculpture is easy! You just carve down to the skin and stop! Michaelangelo.

Whitestones Eco-pods

Alongside the Studio are three ECO Artist retreats accommodating up to three adults each. If you would like to make the most of your time on the Jurassic Coast why not include an overnight stay. 

Visit the White Stones web address for accommodation booking information.

Portland Stone Quarry Blocks
Portland Quarry Stones
Abstract Sculpture by John Davey

Sculptors Who Have Influenced My Art


Like every artist, there are a lot of Sculptors who have influenced my Art. Heres a few of them. Some were discovered years ago when I started on my creative journey. Others, later on, some rediscovered as my visual vocabulary has changed and evolved.

David Smith Sculptor

I happened upon David  Smith,s sculpture while visiting a Secondhand Art Book Shop in Charring Cross in London. As a student living of £ 30 a week ( a bedsit was only £ 10 a week!) I loved to splash out on art books, excited by the beautiful and inspiring work of other artists. Learning about their lives, making processes, ups and downs.

I loved reading about his daily routine. His pride in having a large stock of materials to create his sculptures. His work ethic and his love of nature as well as the man-made.

“Sculpture is as free as the mind; as complex as life.” David Smith


Isamu Noguchi

I rediscovered Isamu Noguchi,s sculptures only a year ago! Seeing a video about his life. As luck would have it the next day I went to a local flea market. Always looking for cheap tools and books. While browsing through some bookshelves between Manet and Van Gogh I happened upon a great book of his with great photos. Talk about chance!

His work appears to me strong and quiet at the same time. The mixtures of wood and stone so complimentary.

I did see some of his sculptures when I was 25yrs. But it didn’t click at the time. I was visiting Italy staying near Venice with a cousin. The 42nd Venice Biennale was on and he was representing the U.S.A. How could I of not been struck by his art at the time?

“You can find out how to do something and then do it or do something and then find out what you did.” Isamu Noguchi


art history?

William Turnball

At Art School, we studied the History of Art. Learning about the evolution of Art and Architecture. Especially the most known examples. Later I realised that a lot of artists had been forgotten and underrated. William Turnball was one of these. Again a secondhand book that I had stumbled across.

I found it heartening that he also had difficult periods. Not selling his work, finding it hard to pay his studio rent and buy materials. At times cannibalising finished sculptures to create new ones.

I particularly love his truth to the materials he sculpts. Never showing off any technical mastery, letting the mediums speak for themselves.

So I hope this little insight into the Sculptors that have influenced my art will also inspire you to create and see the world in a slightly different way. Better get off chipping!

My Creative Process

So here’s a little insight into my creative process that I go through to create my sculptures and paintings.

I usually begin with an inkling of an idea. It could come from something I’ve seen recently or a memory from way back. A foggy image that has touched me in some way. It could also be a previous sculpture that still needs to be refined.

This next sculpture was inspired when I was working on a house restoration project in France.

the idea

I was working on the second floor of the building when I saw a doorway opening out to an unfinished balcony. The outside railing had not be fixed and there was no door in place. So for safety reasons the workmen had blocked the opening with pieces of wood leaning in between the sides of the doorway, in a zig-zag pattern. Hmmm, I thought that could be a potential idea for a sculpture!


So the first stage was to make a few sketches and see what was possible. There are so many variations that in reality I only really sculpt a small percentage of my ideas. A sculpture is a slow and laborious task!

After this stage, it’s obviously thinking of materials to sculpt and what I can afford and find. I’m a bit truth to materials and don’t like pushing a material into doing something that isn’t natural to it,s particular characteristics. So I sourced some beautiful wood and stone. Thought of the size, colours and textures.

I then drew out some templates to make sure the stone forms would fit perfectly into the wooden frame. Spent hours of dusty carving and doweling. Et  Voila!

The final sculpture

Abstract Sculpture Wooden Frame With Stones Inside

Portland Stone, Sabutu Wood. 135 X 45 X 25.6 cm. Sold.

As I mentioned before, there are so many variations on this idea and I’m sure I’ll be continuing to develop and progress this idea further.

I’m also really pleased that a private collector has acquired this sculpture. Which has pride of place in a beautiful garden overlooking a beach where I played as a young child.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this little insight into my artistic journey. Let’s see where I go next?



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.

Leaf Stone Sculpture

Leaf Sculpture in Portland Stone Basebed

Stone Sculpture in Progress for dorset art weeks

This is a sculpture I’m carving for the next exhibition in Weymouth. Art With a View, Dorset Art Weeks, 26th May-10th June, Venue 228.15, Old Castle Road, Weymouth. DT4 8QB. With other fantastically talented local artists, Olivia Nurrish, Andrea Frankham Hughes, Clare Francis Buckle.

This sculpture was inspired by previous work as well as the natural forms of leaves. No two the same. Their beautiful curves evolved to capture sunlight,( a bit like my sculptures?)

Stone Leaf Sculpture

Block of Portland Stone for Leaf Sculpture

Working from the chosen block of Portland Stone and a rough idea, I begin by sketching out some profiles of curves. I guess a sculpture is an infinite amount of silhouettes that become a form.

Roughing out Stone Leaf Sculpture

Roughing out Stone Leaf Sculpture

After the tracing of the shape, I begin roughing out the form using a stone grinder. Trying to get as close to the form as possible without going too far! Which unfortunately sometimes it does! Still learning.

Then using chisels to refine the shape. Finally adjusting any bumps or dips using different grades of sandpaper until I’m happy with the result.

Leaf Stone Sculpture

Leaf Stone Sculpture

Nexxt comes the base. Which is actually quite difficult to choose. I do like the contrast of using another material, Wood, Steel, which compliment the sculpture. Still trying to figure out this one. Maybe a tree trunk would work? Watch this space.

While carving this sculpture so many different permutations have suggested themselves. I’ve learnt over time not to try and do everything in just one piece. To finish my original idea and then to move onto the next one. Some patience is involved as stone carving is a lengthy process

So I hope you’ve enjoyed this small insight into my working progress. Will post some pictures of the final sculpture ASAP. Obviously, for the tactile side of my work, you’ll have to come to the exhibition to see for yourselves. I will be holding some taster stone carving workshops for those of you who fancy some chipping! Have a look at my workshop page for details, dates and times will soon be fixed.Looking forward to seeing you there.