Max with one of his works of art
Max with one of his works of art

This Months DGWGO Featured Artist is somebody very special , Max Nowell , A Sculpture who is inspired by our wonderful region and the creatures that live in it , Read his story and see just a few pictures of his stunning work below –



The Thornhill-based artist Max Nowell has two strings to his bow, in that he works as a sculptor and as a high-quality stone landscaper. Having recently returned to normality after working on Cleve West’s M&G Garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show (the second of Cleve’s gardens he’s worked on, winning a Gold and a Best in Show), we’ll concentrate on the art side of his work here.

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A Sculpture by Max , using his Drystane Dyking skills , at Jedburgh

Max moved to Dumfries and Galloway in 1979 and has spent much of the time since then rebelling against the genes he inherited from his parents, who were both artists, by working on or around farms for a long time as a dry-stone dyker. Blood will out, though, as they say, and gradually he has moved further and further into the decorative or ornamental side of stone-work, and he says he now leaves the real work to those true heroes of the country-side, the stone dykers.


Much of his output does owe its character and beauty to the skills he learned during those long years out in the fields, though, especially the dry-stone eggs, which have become a specialty, and his landscaping structures. He gains a lot of inspiration from the qualities of the materials he works with; the character of slate, say, is far different to that of sandstone or whin. He also draws ideas from the natural history of Dumfries and Galloway, especially birds and wild flowers, and from beach-combing on some of Scotland’s wildest and most exposed shores.



Out-door sculptures are either dry-stone or carved by hand. The eggs mentioned above are always created with a particular place or, sometimes, person in mind. People or places always have a bird associated with them, and Max uses his old copy of The Observer’s Book of Birds’ Eggs to get the proportions of the chosen egg correct. He’s just finished a Yellow Hammer’s egg, 60cms tall, for a Spring Fling visitor to his studio. Other eggs are up to 2.5 metres tall, and weigh several tonnes. Max likes to incorporate a feature such as a hole or an indentation into the sculpture, both to add visual interest and to represent the yolk of the egg in some way. It also keeps the actual building of the egg technically challenging!


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His carved outdoor pieces are usually reasonably large, and these days usually incorporate knotted stone rope. Max explains that he is trying, with his recent work, to express emotional or inter-personal relationships through the slightly humorous illusion of two rough chunks of rock fastened together. Another theme he is concentrating on at th moment is seed-heads, particularly poppies, up to eight feet tall!

As for indoor sculptures, Max carves smaller knots (popular as wedding gifts), reliefs of flowers, foliage, feathers, etc, and makes other pieces which concentrate on texture, colour or discolouration, striking shapes or interesting juxtapositions of materials or things.

When he’s not working,Max enjoys family life, fishing, visits to the Highlands or Galloway’s Hills and coast, following the “mighty” Queen of the South FC, bird-watching and the odd whisky or cigar, and, he says, the more of them that he can do at the same time, the better!


If Your Interested in Finding more out about Max’s work you can visit his website at Website : maxnowellsculpture.co.uk
Or Follow him on Facebook: Max Nowell Sculpture
or get him on the Phone: 07879 999029