David West’s extraordinary talents both as a wood carver and as a painter seem to have realised a visionary peacefulness and contemplative quality in his most recent work. Gilded carvings of the moon and of moonlight on the sea were the first signs of his bringing the mystery and wonder he discovered on the Kumano Kodo pilgrim trail in Japan in 2008 back to his own surroundings here in Dorset. A fascination with light on the surface of water in all its many manifestations has followed. His most recent work explores the shoreline, rock pools and tidal waters of the Dorset coast where the tide often comes in over flat layers of weathered rock. Some gilded, some painted, these almost abstract rhythmic reliefs are unique and exceptional works of art.
David West has been carving in wood for some forty years. His pieces have always been imaginative, witty and filled with fantasy and wonder. His work is in museums, public galleries and private collections. Born in London in 1939, he studied painting and printmaking at Camberwell School of Art. He taught part-time at various art schools until 1972. Since then he has worked full-time as a professional artist on both commissioned and other works. He moved to Lyme Regis, Dorset, in 1981. For many years he has been fascinated by the miniature. He spent seven years building a doll’s house and gardens for a private collector. He has always described his role as creating a framework or situation which will allow the spectator to enter and partake in his or her own fantasy.
In 1991 he became involved with the restoration of the Town Mill in Lyme Regis. He stepped down as chairman in 2000. During this time he began running summer workshops at Parnham in Beaminster and in different parts of Japan. In 2008 he was invited by the Sasakawa Foundation of Great Britain to spend four weeks travelling and drawing in Japan. The trip included a walk along parts of the Kumano Kodo, an ancient Buddhist/Shinto pathway in the Kii Peninsular which links numerous temples and shrines, often located near waterfalls or some other natural feature.
For the next eight years he worked on ideas directly inspired by his experiences in Japan. At first he did not know how to express the sense of mystery and wonder the walk had evoked in him. A commission to carve new organ pipe shades for St Michael’s Church in Lyme Regis acted as a catalyst. For the first time he experimented with gilding, under-painting and pierced carving and, using these techniques, he went on to make some large woodcarvings relating directly to his Japanese drawings. He showed these in Lyme Regis in 2010. He showed more gilded pathway carvings, their size and impact condensed to that of icons, together with woodcuts prints, in his first exhibition at Sladers Yard in 2013. His latest carvings and paintings continue that thinking in a response to his surroundings at home. He lives with his wife, Barbara Steel, who is also a painter. They have a daughter, and three grandchildren.
Private and public collections include the University of Warwick; Ulster Museum, Belfast; Totnes Hospital; Philpott Museum, Lyme Regis; Dorset County Museum, Dorchester; University of Ashikawa, Hokkaido; Sasakawa Foundation of Great Britain, Tokyo; St. Michael’s Church, Lyme Regis; John Makepeace Collection; Equity and Law; The Builder Group Ltd. and St. Lawrence University, New York.
One-man shows include Fischer Fine Art, London 1984; Parnham House, Beaminster 1985; a touring exhibition from 1987-8 at: Royal Albert Museum, Exeter, Glynn Vivian, Swansea, Ulster Museum, Belfast, Mead Gallery, Warwick University, Cliffe Castle, Keighley and Dorset Museum, Dorchester; Town Mill Gallery, Lyme Regis 2010; Sladers Yard, West Bay 2013, 2016 and 2019. In 2018 Dorset County Museum hosted a major retrospective of David’s carvings and paintings.
David West’s carvings are available to buy now or can be viewed in the gallery by appointment. Please click on an image to see the prices. To enquire about any of David West’s work please contact the gallery by email: email@example.com or phone: 01308 459511.