Stone carving – the goddess with Paula Haughney

Ref: S5D32029

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About this course

The goddess is a universal subject present in many cultures. Explore this rich theme through making a stone sculpture. Stone is a wonderful versatile material, different colours, textures and degrees of hardness and carving is an ancient direct way of expression to reveal the form.

Course Description

The Goddess – a female deity. It is a broad and many layered subject, present in all cultures and religions. Throughout history the goddess symbolises life and death, fertility, motherhood, sexuality, creativity and domesticity, united with nature.

The course will look at the goddess in religion in pre-patriarchal societies in Neolithic Europe and from many other cultures. Lots of images to look at, books to peruse, ideas to discuss.

Stone is a wonderful versatile material, it comes in a variety of colours, textures and degrees of hardness. There is a rock to suit and challenge all abilities. This course is for beginners and those with some experience. The aim is to give the student time, the environment and knowledge to create and carve their own sculpture on the theme of the goddess.

The course will answer some of these questions.

What rock is suitable for carving?

How to carve comfortably and efficiently?

What to carve?

How to begin?

What method ?

Where do you find tools and stone?

The course starts with an introduction to the health and safety connected with stone carving.

To begin, a series of small sculptures will be made in clay. Quick simple forms to explore shapes in the round. This will help in the carving. Whether it is a series of smaller figurines or a larger single sculpture. There will be blocks of limestone and more natural rock shapes to choose from.

Instruction will be given through the stages from shaping to polishing. Using different tools to reduce the rock, make marks and change the shape. You will be sympathetic to the stone but be in command of your tools and become confident in your choice making.

Either come with some inspiration and ideas or wait until you see the stone and visual stimulus that your tutor and the West Dean environment provides. Stone can be purchased from the college but be prepared to adapt your ideas to the shape and type of stone available. Maltese Limestone comes in sawn rectangular blocks but others like alabaster and soapstone have one or more natural surfaces, also colour can play a part. Limestones are plain and neutral whereas soapstone can have strong markings. Teaching will be done by demonstrating techniques and methods to the group and through individual tuition. Digital or paper handouts will be given throughout the course.

The sculpture courtyard comprises of a well-equipped studio open on one side (though covers can be pulled down if it rains). It is situated a short walk from the main house, giving a lovely experience of the orchard and greenhouses on the way.

All tools and equipment are supplied to use during the course.

By the end of the course you will have obtained more skills and experience in carving a stone sculpture.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials

What students need to bring

  • Bring ideas for inspiration
  • Drawing materials
  • Sketch pad and pencils
  • Camera or phone for recording process
  • Close fitting work gloves
  • A magnifying device (optional)
  • Apron or overalls, hat
  • Sun cream if working outside or umbrella if forecast shows rain

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Stones are available to purchase. Chosen from the stock in the sculpture courtyard and paid for in the shop. Some stones are paid for in weight around £4 per kilo or by size.
  • A good variety of art and craft materials including drawing materials and sketch pads are also available.
  • Available from tutor:
  • Some additional stone.

Additional information

Please note: Your workshop will be in the Sculpture Courtyard which is a 10-minute walk from the main house through the walled garden or can be accessed by car. The Sculpture Courtyard is open on one side so be prepared for any type of weather. Morning coffee and afternoon tea will be held in the nearby Carrington Studio. You will return to the main house for lunch. Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no open toes or sandals). Safety boots if possible. Stone carving is a dusty activity, safety equipment (safety glasses and ear defenders) can be borrowed, masks are provided but you might like to bring fitting gloves to work in. Eye protection and face masks are supplied by the College and are essential. Full health and safety instructions will be given. Stone carving is a physical activity, and it is most effective when standing up but can be achieved sitting down.


Paula Haughney portrait

Paula Haughney

Paula Haughney,sculptor, stone-carver, maker and teacher studied at Portsmouth Polytechnic and Eastern Illinois university obtaining a BA and MA in Fine Art Sculpture. Stone carving came later, once found, she realised this was her chosen medium. Now having over 30 years experience and many monumental sculptures completed she has taught at all levels, exhibits regularly and is included in public collections worldwide.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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