Bidders battle it out for stone sculptures

May 28 2018
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RESIDENTS of Wells snapped up 18 unique stone sculptures on Bank Holiday Monday as Wells Stone Carving Festival culminated in an exciting and competitive live auction outside the Bishop’s Barn on Wells Recreation Ground.

More than £6,000 was raised from the auction, the profits of which will be donated to the Bishop’s Barn, as the trustees of the medieval tithe barn – one of only a small number still standing in the UK – seek a purpose for the building that will bring in a sustainable revenue to cover its upkeep.

The 18 carvings were produced by artists from across the country, including the winner of the European stone carving festival in 2017 and masons from Winchester Cathedral, who had come to compete at the festival by producing a carving in just two and a half days to fit the brief of Medieval England.

Before the auction was kicked off by local auctioneer Allen Mechen, councillor and trustee of the barn Harvey Siggs presented the three prizes for the best carvings as judged by the public, the artists themselves and the trustees. The winners were

• Public Vote: Jem Hobbs of Cliveden Conservation.

• Artists’ Choice: Tom Clark, a Martock based stone carver.

• Trustees’ Choice: Alex Waddell of Winchester Cathedral.

The event was organised by local stonemason Paul Roddan and Rosie Park with sponsorship from local firms Glastonbury Marquees and Wells Cathedral Stonemasons. The Worshipful Company of Masons and tool supplier G Gibson & Co also sponsored the event along with Lovell Stone Group, who supplied the Hartham Park bath stone.

The hire of the Bishop’s Barn was free as part of the Into the Barn scheme, with numerous community and arts events taking place over the course of 2018.

Paul Roddan said: “Having competed in a few stone carving festivals myself in the past I was keen to establish an event in Wells given the strong connection the city has with this ancient trade. When we saw the call for applications for the Into the Barn scheme we thought it was the perfect opportunity to try out an event like this.

“The feedback from the public has been hugely positive and encouraging, and our ambition will be to make this an annual event. The standard of carving was extremely high and the public have snapped up some brilliant pieces of art which will likely only ever increase in value.

“We couldn’t have done the event without the support of all of our sponsors, the auctioneer Allen, our artists and of course the public who came along throughout the weekend to see the transformation of a six-sided block of stone into a unique and creative work of art.”

Picture: David Annat with the sculpture he created