Stone carvers study at Florence Academy of Art thanks to QEST Scholarships

Rasha Obaid

Rasha Obaid, one of two stone carvers who have been awarded QEST Scholarships to study at Florence Academy of Art in Italy.

Two more stone carvers are among the latest craftspeople to be sharing nearly £300,000 from the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) to further their education.

The stone workers are Rasha Obaid and Dan Russell. Their Scholarships will enable both of them to study at the world famous Florence Academy of Art (FAA) in Italy.

Rasha Obaid’s primary area of interest is figurative sculpture and the restoration of historic stone sculptures.

She has a good foundation in carving and modelling from City & Guilds of London Art School, and is now seeking additional expertise in capturing the human form in clay and drawing by attending the FAA.

The QEST 2023 Scholarship will support Rasha during a year-long sculpture programme focusing on anatomy, gesture, and the capturing of human form in clay and drawing.

Rasha believes that supplementing her architectural stone carving foundation with specialised training in modelling the human form will position her to build a career in figurative carving and restoration in stone when she returns to the UK.

Over the next five-to-10 years she also plans to work with recent UK immigrants, aiming to increase their awareness of and engagement with the UK’s abundant artistic and heritage resources.

She says: “I’m interested in the creation and restoration of art in public spaces that engages with the narratives and identities of the local communities and represents a sense of beauty and harmony.”

Dan Russell is a classically trained stone carver, letter cutter, draftsman and sculptor. He studied sculpture at The Heatherley School of Fine Art and gained a First Class Honours degree in Historic Stone Carving from the City & Guilds of London Art School.

Dan’s QEST Scholarship will fund his third year on The Florence Academy of Art Sculpture Programme, advancing his education as a figurative sculptor.

Dan says: “By combining craftsmanship and the wonders of the natural world I strive to create an artistic expression that surpasses mere imitation, offering a unique perspective that resonates with both tradition and innovation.”

QEST accepts applications for its scholarships and apprenticeships twice yearly. The next round of applications opens on 10 July and goes through to 14 August.

The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) has also introduced Emerging Maker Grants for the training and education of talented craftspeople who are at an early stage in their career. Applications for this also open on 10 July.

The Emerging Maker Grant is a new funding opportunity providing up to £10,000 to committed makers who have been practising professionally for up to four years and who have a strong connection to materials, technical skills and processes.

The funding specifically supports training and education programs to help makers enhance their craft skills and advance their careers. The training can take many forms, from traditional college courses to vocational one-on-one learning with a master craftsperson or a bespoke programme of short courses.

To find out more about QEST funding and to apply for grants, visit the website: