Wednesday, January 18, 2012

OneOak Project

Philip and Jody with the boards from the OneOak tree

Art in Action ~ 19-22 July 2012

I’ve been invited to demonstrate and exhibit at Art in Action this summer, 19-22 July 2012 ( as part of the OneOak project. Not for the first time as I was first invited in 1982 and have since put in a regular appearance. This year, however, it will be father and son as Jody, my son who came along whilst still a baby in a buggy in 1982, will be joining me! Jody, based in Northumberland, has been making furniture for two years. When he decided on a career change from teaching it was a big surprise to me as I hadn’t given him any encouragement and neither had he shown any interest in furniture making as a child or adolescent, or so I thought. When he graduated at Cardiff in psychology I gave him a gift of a 3-day course in green woodworking taught by an inspirational Gudrun Leitz. This started him on a path, including building his own steam-bent ash yurt in which he lived for two years. His workshop is part of a converted barn near his home.
We will be exhibiting a range of furniture made from a 222-year old oak tree from Blenheim Palace as part of the OneOak exhibition, which will be taking over the Woodworking tent at Art in Action this year. Jody and I will be demonstrating the use of the hand spokeshave. This will be an opportunity for anyone, young and old, to try their hand at this versatile tool.
You can find out more about the OneOak project of the Sylva Foundation, run by Dr Gabriel Hemery, here:

Monday, January 16, 2012

Fred Baier, The Right Angle

I was lucky to be able to fit in a trip to Farnham in the first week of the year before Fred Baier’s exhibition at The Crafts Study Centre museum at the University for Creative Arts finished.
Fred Baier is an artist-craftsman who goes to places furniture designer-makers, like myself, have never been to or have even never imagined! The work is provocative and challenging, yet familiar. He combines very recognisable elemental shapes (cones, torus, cubes, etc) with bold-coloured woods and highly lacquered surfaces. His forms are sculptural and bold, yet highly refined and functional.
His work contrasts dramatically with the likes of me who remain wedded to the Arts & Crafts philosophy (we produce furniture that looks like furniture!). Yet, despite the difference it was a humbling experience to see his work first hand (images are a crude substitute by comparison). It wasn’t just beautifully made, imaginatively adventurous and visually stunning, it was also mathematically accomplished, superbly engineered and technically sophisticated. James Willis, my assistant, called Fred an “inventor” and he does have the persona of a wacky genius! -;)