Stone carving – the head in soft limestone with Patricia Barker

Ref: SLW13547

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About this course

Using soft Maltese limestone, you will be carving a head from your own design. The head is an archetypal subject that has been represented across many cultures. Your approach can be stylised or realistic.

Course Description

The human head is a fundamental subject in the history of sculpture, whether representing a specific individual or fulfilling a more symbolic role.

The course will begin with a brief survey of stone heads from a variety of cultures, showing the range of approaches that are possible.

You will first make a small model in clay to clarify your idea which will then be used as a guide for beginning the carving. Reference material will be available to help you develop a small model or you can base it on your drawings or photographs (preferably from several views). You will take the carving through the stages of roughing out, developing the forms and finally finishing the surface of the stone.

The method practised is direct carving. The stone supplied is Maltese limestone, which is relatively easy to carve, and the block will be roughly proportionate to the human head. You will be shown how to use carving tools and given guidance through the different stages of the carving.

For beginners, practical instruction and advice in basic stone carving will be given. For those with previous experience of stone carving, tutorials will be offered to help advance your practice. There will be demonstations given for different stages of the carving.

At the end of the course, you will have a stone carving of a head and you will have gained knowledge and confidence in stone carving techniques, and in your own artistic expression.


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


  • On this course the College will supply clay, wet and dry paper in various grades, Abranet, wax and rags, Maltese limestone – approximately 11 x 7 x 6 inches in size.
  • All stone carving tools and equipment are provided by the College for you to use during the course. Eye protection and face masks are also supplied and are essential.

What students need to bring

  • Any reference material for your sculpture (preferably several views of the head, especially profile and full face)
  • Sketchbook and pencil, if desired
  • Work clothes and head covering – warm clothes as it can be cold
  • Sensible shoes/boots (steel toe caps if you have them) – sandals must not be worn in the workshop
  • Gardening type gloves to work in (optional)

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • A good variety of art materials including sketchbooks, pencils, some carving tools and wet and dry paper.

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.


Patricia Barker

Patricia completed an MA in Fine Art at University of Central England in 1994. She has exhibited at The Discerning Eye and the Royal Society of British Artists. She is a member of Chelsea Art Society and in 2020 was awarded the Sloane Stanley medal. 


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

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