Literally re-turning unfinished pieces ready for another Designers and Makers Market at the Turner Contemporary Gallery in Margate this December 14 and 15th.
This piece has a cheeky smile, like a model at a fashion show, showing off her hat!
Turned several years ago from a very green piece of field maple, stored in the rain after felling the tree in our back garden. After a couple of years, I discovered some interesting discolouration was occurring, so I took it to the lathe. It was still quite wet and liable to warping or splitting so I put it aside until last week.
The ‘hat’ is bubinga with an ebano support, it’s a kind of cheeky design leaving the form precarious and unbalanced. It must be leaning, close to falling and the spalted patterning suggests faces and expressions almost recognisably human. The hat can be turned, and the head tilted into numerous postures.
I often ask myself, when does an experiment become a work of art?
In the eye of the beholder I guess.
There is a growing collection of wood in my yard, from logs to branches, complete root balls excavated by a generous friend, interesting finds from specialist stockists, driftwood off the beach and salvaged furniture parts.
Settling in my world from all parts of the world.
Here are two pieces which have inadvertently become one. My dear brother with an exceptional eye for grouping objects beautifully, took these pictures for me in my studio.
Both pieces are based from a burl from a kind of Australian gum tree. One cups a relic held high, balancing delicately on a driftwood branch as if left there by the tide. The other revolves around like a moon, or circumambulates as a pilgrim might around the remains of their master.
The spiralling and complex grain of the burls with a startlingly contrasting bark have patterns like exploding stars. And very hard and heavy to handle!
I guess I should come up with a title for the composition… but not yet.
From an early age I have always been fascinated by the colours and textures of many objects made from wood. As a professional model maker the more abstract block models of high tech buildings made in boxwood were far more satisfying than ones finished to look like steel and concrete.
Every tree has its history etched in layers. Each year a new season of growth and stasis leaves a discernible band of colour and texture in the fibres of every branch. The swelling trunk with its grain reaching upwards enveloping branches as they reach out to the side, leaving ‘knots’ in a plank sawn from the tree.
Recently I have been exploring chunks of felled apple trees form a nearby orchard. Regularly pruned they are full of scars, tortured and contorted sometimes diseased the wood is full of interesting features.
Living as a forest monk in many parts of the world I was often captivated by the characters of so many different trees in their varied environments. I was reflecting on life in a jungle with each branch competing for light, or roots clinging to rocks for stability. Strangling and smothering each other, spreading seedlings in their thousands trusting that one will survive. They are also homes for in numerous creatures that nest in crevices or bore into fibres and leave their marks.
In Thailand I lived in forest huts with beautifully polished teak floors, in England huts with cedar shingle roofs and plywood walls.
In my wooden creations I like to use contrasting colours and grains. Most designs are principally dictated by the shapes and forms as they are revealed to me during the carving or turning process. Sometimes a bowl turns into a hollow form as interesting features appear within. I have several pieces half finished, allowing the material to season and dry in stages or sometimes because the form hasn’t gone in any way close to the way I expected and I need to give the piece more time to form itself in my mind.
This wood working hobby is rapidly becoming a passionately artistic love affair that gives me the opportunity to absorb into a different realm of obscure contours, colours smells and textures and loose myself for a while in sheer delights.