Biography - Jonathan SellsSculptor and stone carver, Dorset, UK
Jonathan Sells is a professional award-winning sculptor / stone carver who studied architectural carving and stone masonry at Weymouth College, Dorset, where he trained with Portland stone masons. As a sculptor and artist he is self taught. As well as his own imaginative conceptions his extensive experience has enabled him to work successfully with architects, public bodies and individuals on a wide range of commissions.
Known for his large (and often quirky and amusing!) pieces, Jonathan’s stone carving is both figurative and abstract. He has a deep love of nature that is often echoed in his work. His carved and polished leaves from Purbeck marble are popular for gifts, and he produces evocative animal sculptures, capturing the spirit of the animals that he sees around him. Stone holds magic qualities for Jonathan – and his carvings often bring to life the essence of an image that he sees within a piece of stone before he begins to carve.
He has produced several large sculptures and commemorative plaques for public places such as a piece depicting Christchurch Priory where he was the artist in residence after winning a major sculpture competition for the commission. His public works are often figurative pieces representing various historic anniversaries and capturing the emotion and mood of the people at the time. In describing his Christchurch Priory sculpture he said “I wanted to create a feeling of rejoicing and celebration, but with a humorous angle.” Tregonwell, another public sculpture about historic characters, was described by the Mayor of Bournemouth as a ‘witty interpretation’ of Bournemouth’s seaside history.
Jonathan is based in Corfe Castle, Dorset and a lot of his work is created in the local Purbeck and Portland Stone, although he sometimes works other stone and alabaster. He has exhibited his work extensively in Dorset and countrywide, including the Barbican Centre in London where he was invited to give sculpture demonstrations.
He is happy to take commissions for a wide range of hand carved stonework, letter cutting and restoration work. His carvings include water features, house names, company logos, garden furniture, memorial headstones, and smaller unique gifts for birthdays, weddings and other celebrations.
Awards & Achievements
- Member of Executive Committee to Poole Arts Council 2003.
- Elected Arts Ambassador for Poole 2002.
- Rainforest Exhibition, The Barbican Centre, London. Exhibiting and demonstrating on the outside sculpture court 1990.
- Made Freeman of the Ancient Order of Purbeck Marblers 1998.
- Bursary Award – Portland Sculpture Park, Dorset 1989.
Some Work In Public Places
- Pictorial date stone for Corfe Castle School – working with the children to design it before carving 2013.
- Sculpture of fauna of the Jurassic period, Lulworth Heritage Centre – artist in residence 2012.
- Carving of large 13ft x 5ft school plaque for Osprey Quay Campus, Portland 2012.
- Carved Welcome panel in sign language (Makaton) for Highview School, Efford, Plymouth 2011.
Working with students and parents. The design won an award.
- Carved paving stones (working with teenagers at Efford Youth Centre) for Yeo Close Play Park, 2010
- Sculpture depicting Frank Foley (2nd World War Hero) sited in Highbridge, Somerset 2004-5.
- Carving celebrating 700 years of Wareham Market and 100 years of Cottees Auctioneers 2003.
- Statue in Carrara Marble for Queen Mary University of London Hospital 2000.
- Statue of Tregonwell, commissioned by Mayor of Bournemouth (statue sited outside the Bournemouth International Centre) 1999.
- Commemorative Centenary Plaque for the National Trust (carved at Kingston Lacey House) for public exhibition and attraction during Open Day 1995.
- Winner of anniversary Sculpture competition celebrating Christchurch Priory’s 900th.
- Anniversary – residency in Priory Gardens for 3 months 1994.
- A memorial plaque for the Duchy of Cornwall (opening of the Poundbury Centre) 1993.
- Memorial Bench at Corfe Castle for Parish Council 1992.
- I have also undertaken many private commissions, nationally and internationally and I have exhibited my work extensively around the UK.
Recent News Posts
Jonathan took part in a ‘Have A Go Stone Carving’ event at Dunshay Manor, Harman’s Cross, Swanage, on 17th and 18th September 2022.
A Millennium Plaque to celebrate the 1000-year anniversary of Wareham’s St Martin on the Walls Church is to be unveiled on 1st June 2022 at 12.00pm at the Church, North Street, Wareham, BH20 4AG. The plaque has been designed and carved by local Sculptor, Jonathan Sells and depicts the famous story of St Martin cutting his cloak to share with a beggar.
The first stone carving lessons of the year took place over the May 2021 Bank Holiday weekend, at Sandy Hill Studio, Corfe Castle. More lesson dates to be announced soon.