Relief carving in stone – human forms with Patricia Barker

Ref: SLW31818

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Places available

About this course

Using soft Maltese limestone, you will be carving a relief with the human figure(s) as your subject. Working from your own design using drawings or photographs, the figure(s) can be abstracted or realistic.

Course Description

Relief carving is halfway between drawing and sculpture, so it can still have convincing sculptural form. It allows one to carve figures more freely without worrying about the fragility of outstretched limbs. You can introduce a narrative if you wish, with more than one figure or a small group of figures. Perspective can be used or ignored and you can carve both in low relief (like a coin) or in high relief (nearly fully rounded but still attached to the background.) Relief carving lends itself to effects of light and shade and textural contrasts.

For your design, you could use a life drawing or combine several drawings to form a narrative. You could depict clothed figure(s) or just the head and shoulders. You could translate a favourite painting into three dimensions. Reference material will be available if you are unsure what design to choose.

To begin, there will be a brief survey of relief stone carving from different eras and cultures. A small sketch in clay can be made to clarify your composition before starting work on the stone. You will be shown how to draw on the block and begin to remove stone from around your figure(s). You will be working in Maltese limestone, which is relatively soft and easy to carve. The blocks will be 8” x 8” x 3” in depth; this allows for high relief if desired.

For beginners, practical instruction and advice on basic stone carving techniques will be given. If you already have some experience, tutorials will be offered to help you to advance your practice. There will be demonstrations given for the different stages of the carving – roughing out, shaping and finishing.

At the end of the course, you will have a relief carving in stone and 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
  • Maltese limestone 8 x 8 x 3 inches approximately
  • Wet and dry paper in various grades, Abranet, wax and rags

What students need to bring

  • Reference materials/design for your relief carving
  • Sketchbook and pencil if desired
  • Apron or overalls, hat, gloves to work in or to handle stone (need to fit – gardening type gloves)
  • Suncream if working outside or umbrella if forecast shows rain
  • Sensible shoes/boots. Sandals must not be worn in the workshop.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • A good selection of art and craft materials

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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