Exploring Working at a Larger Scale
I was delighted to be awarded a QEST Scholarship in Autumn 2018 and to become a Turners’ Company Scholar. I applied for a grant in order to develop my understanding of working at a larger scale. I wanted to develop a new formal and technical language and to extend and challenge the limits of my practice. I hope that by developing my skills and continuing to push the boundaries of what is possible through turning and carving wood I can contribute positively to my area of craft.
The scholarship is split into two parts. The first part involved travelling to the United States of America to gather information and develop my thinking. I approached several sculptors using wood as their primary material to arrange visits and a short residency in order to see the implications in both practical and conceptual terms of working at scale. I was invited to visit the sculptor Ursula von Rydingsvard in her studio in Brooklyn, New York City and also to spend five days working with Mark Lindquist at Lindquist Studios in Quincy, Florida.
I left for New York on Wednesday 7th November in order to arrive in time for the Private View of the Salon of Art and Design at the Park Avenue Armoury on the Thursday evening as Sarah Myerscough Gallery was showing pieces from my new series of work. In my four days I made use of every hour visiting the Museum of Craft & Design, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MOMA, the Donald Judd Foundation studio and the Isamu Noguchi Foundation. The highlight of this part of the trip being a mention and picture of my work in the New York Times and an afternoon spent at the studio of Ursula von Rydingsvard looking at the implications of working at monumental scale. Her globally-recognised sculpture in cedar was awe-inspiring up close and her generosity in allowing me to visit and understand a little more of how her work is developed was unforgettable.
Monday 12th November saw me on a dawn flight to Tallahassee, Florida via North Carolina to spend the rest of the week at the Lindquist Studios in Quincy. In the 1970’s, Mark, building on the success of his father Mel Lindquist, (one of the founders of the American Studio Woodturning Movement) successfully helped to transform the wood-turning field, revolutionising not only how work was displayed and sold but what it could be. It was therefore an immense privilege to have been invited to stay with and work alongside Mark and Kathy Lindquist for a week in their studio, a mammoth converted tobacco factory deep in the countryside outside Tallahassee. Mark was enormously generous with his time, knowledge and experience and the residency was all I had hoped it would be. We had time to discuss how Mark’s work fitted into the history of sculpture in the US and to look in detail at monumental pieces in situ in his studio gallery and at the museum in Quincy. We discussed at length the logistics of moving material at a grand scale and the implications of making work informed by architectural relationships and human scale. I worked with him in a studio that had seen Mel Lindquist, Gary Stevens, Dale Nish and other icons of American wood art through its doors and it was an experience that I will never forget.
The second part of the Scholarship is the chance to attend classes in sculpture at the Art Academy, London for one day a week for six terms starting in January 2019. This will allow me to experiment with materials and methods in a wide range of sculptural disciplines- from specific skills development to creative development and expression. The course features a comprehensive bespoke study programme which will enable me to develop my own direction. Tutors will introduce me to new techniques both traditional and contemporary and the flexibility of the course will allow me to continue with my established practice in wood whilst developing new work.
Ursula Von Rydingsvard & Mark Lindquist Studios
I'm delighted to announce that, as the recipient of a QEST Scholarship, I travelled to America this month to visit the studios of Ursula Von Rydingsvard and Mark Lindquist.
The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust, awarded me a scholarship this November which allowed me to take a research trip to the US to explore ideas for a new body of larger-scale sculptural works and undertake further training.
The trip included a dream visit to meet artist Ursula Von Rydingsvard in her Brooklyn studio and a residency with sculptor Mark Lindquist in Florida. I was also able to attend The Salon Art + Design New York, where I had my work reviewed by the New York Times.
I hope to share more about these experiences in my journal when I produce a report for QEST in the new year.
Time & Texture Installation
I'm thrilled to have my Time & Texture Installation at Forde Abbey shortlisted in the Wood Awards 'Furniture & Product: Bespoke' category. The winners will be announced at a ceremony on 21 November.
Time and Texture is an installation of works forming part of ‘A Landscape of Objects’, a site-specific exhibition set in the gardens of Forde Abbey, curated by Flow Gallery for Somerset Art Works. The brief was to reference both the shapes, colours and texture of the gardens and buildings and the importance of water on the site.
The installation is formed of three hollowed vessels on rusted plinths and four solid forms designed to show how natural elements erode and work away at materials. Through building up layers of texture through carving and sandblasting away the softer wood, it is possible to show how natural elements and processes layer and colour wood.
The wellingtonia and sycamore vessels were turned on a lathe and hollowed out through a small hole. The four solid pieces are sculpted from English oak and cedar. The spherical form was chosen to reflect the natural shapes in the garden. The textures are reminiscent of seeds, pollen and rocks eroded by water.
The Wood Awards is the UK’s premier competition for excellence in architecture and product design in the world’s only naturally sustainable material. The Awards aim to recognise, encourage and promote outstanding design, craftsmanship and installation using wood.
The competition began in 1971 as the Carpenters’ Award and was relaunched in 2003 as the Wood Awards. The Awards have had an impact on the architectural and design landscape, becoming a ‘mark of excellence’ in wood with past Arnold Laver Gold Award Winners including Adam Richards Architects for Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, Niall McLaughlin Architects for The Fishing Hut and, most recently, Foster+Partners for Maggie’s at the Robert Parfett Building.
The Awards’ elite independent judging panel of professional experts and specialists not only judges the submitted entries but visits the shortlisted projects in person, making the Wood Awards as meaningful and rigorous a competition as possible.
A LANDSCAPE OF OBJECTS | Curated by Flow Gallery
FORDE ABBEY, CHARD, SOMERSET, TA20 4LU
16 JUNE - 27 OCTOBER 2017
New works for 'Rhythm of Time'
'Rhythm of Time' is opening shortly at Konsthantverkarna in Stockholm. It will be my debut solo show, my first exhibition in Scandinavia and the broadest collection of my work to date. The exhibition will also be the first outing for these new ‘Basaltes’ vessels in Wellingtonia - inspired by eroding columnar Basalt rock features.
Part of the ‘Time & Texture’ series - these new, elongated forms are turned and carved in a freer way using an angle grinder and chainsaw wheel. A natural ‘slate grey’ tone is drawn from the wood using an iron solution (iron being a property of Basalt) or the wood is ‘pickled’ white.
Basalt is a fine-grained, igneous rock which makes up a significant part of the oceanic crust. The distinctive columnar topology or ‘fractures’ are created during the cooling of a thick lava flow - forming a ‘random cellular network’. Basalts weather and erode relatively fast compared to other rocks and the typically iron-rich minerals can oxidise rapidly in water and air.
Although Basalt is usually dark grey in tone - weathering or high concentrations of plagioclase can create different shading. Some basalts can be quite light-coloured and others turn a reddish brown due to oxidation.
RHYTHM OF TIME | Solo Show
KONSTHANTVERKARNA, SÖDERMALMSTORG 4, 116 45 STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN
28 MAY - 21 JUNE
Represented by Sarah Myerscough Gallery
Following a series of introductory exhibitions, COLLECT 2017 will mark the beginning of my formal representation by Sarah Myerscough Gallery (Booth 2.2). This is a significant step, taking my practice forward as an artist-maker. The gallery will focus on works within the Contours of Nature series and I’m currently putting the finishing touches on new sculptural pieces in burr for COLLECT.
I’m fascinated by wood as a living, breathing substance with its own history of growth and struggle centuries beyond our own and I’m particularly drawn to the organic mayhem and creative possibilities of burred wood. This proliferation of cells, formed over decades or even centuries as a reaction to stress or as a healing mechanism is a rare, mysterious and beautiful act of nature.
The twisted configuration of the grain and the frequent bark inclusions and voids are challenging to work and the forms difficult to hollow but the removal of the bark reveals a secret, ethereal landscape, unseen by anyone before. Parts of the form are sculpted smooth and others left raw and untouched. Heavy, forceful hollowing gives way to sandblasting and fine and dextrous work cleaning up every fissure and contour. Pieces are bleached and scorched and tirelessly hand-worked to different lustres and an alabaster-like smoothness. They become objects that invite touch and objects that touch us, reminding us of our elemental and emotional bond with wood and our relationship to the Earth.
COLLECT will be the first of a programme of exhibitions this year in which my works will be represented by Sarah Myerscough Gallery:
SAVE THE DATES
COLLECT, Booth 2.2, Saatchi Gallery, London, UK, 2 - 6 Feb 2017
Design Miami/Basel, Hall 1 Süd, Messe Basel, Switzerland, 13 - 18 June 2017
PAD London, Berkeley Square, Mayfair, London, UK, 2 - 3 October 2017
The Salon Art + Design, Park Avenue Armory, NYC, USA 19 - 13 November 2017
Design Miami, Miami, USA, 6 - 10 December 2017
PAD London & The Salon Art + Design NY
In this photograph by Frank Sadaa (Pictured Left) you can see one of my Voided Vessels in Burr positioned on a spectacular sculptural shelf by Joseph Walsh. These works were exhibited by Sarah Myerscough Gallery at PAD London in October alongside pieces by eight other artists and makers - many of whom will also be represented at The Salon Art + Design in New York this month.
I'll exhibit a new piece at The Salon titled Voided Vessel IX and have included a snapshot of the piece in progress at the end of this journal entry. I'm delighted to have my work on show with such a talented group - here is a little more about the others represented:
Christopher Duffy: In Christopher’s tables layers of glass, acrylic and wood sculpturally map the depths of a geographical landscape - as if a ‘mythical power had lifted a perfect rectangle straight from the earth’s crust.’ (Pictured Right)
Ernst Gamperl: Wood is turned when wet to create a dialogue with the medium before arriving at a final shape. The curved edges, bulges and indentations emerge out of the natural deformation of the wood and are an essential part of Ernst’s designs.
Gareth Neal: Gareth combines technical 3D computer drawing and CNC processes, with intricate craftsmanship. His practice seeks a reconsideration of contemporary furniture design, questioning our perceptions of history and the contemporary, the material and immaterial.
Joseph Walsh: The shelf pictured is part of Joseph’s ‘Enignum’ series in which he has stripped wood into thin layers, manipulating and reconstructing them into extraordinary free form compositions.
Liam Flynn: Liam manipulates the woodturning process so that the line of the grain becomes an integral part to the design - creating symmetry between the grain pattern and the the vessel form. This resulting vessels are breathtakingly simple and elegant.
Maisie Broadhead: Maisie reinterprets art historical images, and is concerned with the exploration of illusion and the idea of ‘value.’ The contemporary and historical elements in her lavish costumes and complex set designs identify enduring social and aesthetic narratives.
Marc Ricourt: In Marc’s own words - ‘my work on vessels has allowed me to develop a relationship between ancient or geographically remote cultures and civilizations and modern creations.’ (Pictured Left)
Michael Peterson: These monumental sculptures are inspired by the geographic environment of the Pacific Northwest. Organic and abstract they are powerful in their artistic grasp of sculptural form and expressive texture.
Peter Marigold: Peter’s most recent design project ‘Bleed’ is a series of contemporary cedar wood cabinets. Although simple forms, the surface patina is painterly and complex and incorporates a form of ‘localised ebonising’ created through an entirely innovative process.
THE SALON ART + DESIGN NY | Sarah Myerscough Gallery
10-14 NOVEMBER 2016
BOOTH B7, PARK AVENUE ARMOURY, 643 PARK AVENUE, NEW YORK, NY
In the pink at the Rio Olympics...
I’m incredibly proud to have a quartet of my new Wellingtonia (Giant Redwood) vessels showcased in the British House for the Rio Olympics this August. They are made from a beautiful tree felled in the British Isles, planted in 1854. The works will be exhibited alongside one of my sculptural pieces in Burr, created from a Horse Chestnut planted in 1710.
This shot by Jeremy Johns is of the Wellingtonian works in progress. When first sandblasted the wood blushes this distinctive dusky pink, but fades naturally with the passing of time. The larger vessel Shifting Sands II has now been ebonised, and the matt black finish emphasises the exquisite grain of the wood.
British House is the UK’s home away from home at Rio 2016, the place to celebrate Team GB’s sporting performance and a cultural showcase for the best of the UK. During the Olympics, it is located in the centre of Rio de Janeiro at historic Parque Lage, adjacent to the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue and within the Copacabana cluster of the Games.
Other artworks on show include a dramatic paper chandelier by Zoe Bradley as well as pieces by fellow Crafted 2015 participants: Theresa Nguyen, Insley and Nash and Alexandra Llewellyn.
Best Contemporary Design Piece
To top off a fantastic show at Design Miami/ Basel I was delighted that my 'Voided Vessel V' was selected for the '9 Best Contemporary Design Pieces' by Blouin ARTINFO:
"The only item that Blouin ARTINFO wanted to absolutely take home from Design Miami/ Basel 2016 has been this vessel, hand-carved from a burr protruding from a horse chestnut tree. Gently bleached and sandblasted to a pale color that highlights the sculptural quality of the work, the wood is prized for its beauty and rarity." - Jana Perkovic
The vessel was exhibited at Design Miami/Basel as part of Nature Lab, A Future Made showcase presented by Crafts Council and The New Craftsmen. Telling the story of nature transformed - each of the six makers on show had developed new techniques to create objects of wonder.
New International Shows & UK Events
Spring sees the start of an incredible International journey for my work to Taste at Artmonte-carlo, followed by Nature Lab at Design Miami/ Basel. There will also be some very special shows closer to home - including Crafted at Fortnum & Mason, Chelsea Flower Show and Open Studios.
Spring newsletter >
Spring News in Brief
Aerial Landscape Photography
A pioneer in aerial landscape photography in the 50s, William A. Garnett has been a longstanding influence on my work. Garnett’s black and white images capture the extraordinary beauty and threat to the landscape - viewed almost to the point of abstraction. I have explored these themes more deeply in my recent Erosion Series. Non representational works, made in nature's own material - revealing the story within the wood but also providing a broader commentary on the vulnerability of the landscape at large.
There are a couple of fantastic books of Garnett’s works on my shelf - displaying astonishing patterns created by plowed fields, cattle trails, sand dunes, cracked ice and salt flats. In particular I am drawn to this image of Butte in Marble Canyon, Arizona featured in William Garnett: Aerial Photographs - pictured here on my workbench. There is a particular artistry in the sinuous curves which appear to be carved into the landscape in light and shade.
Garnett (1916 - 2006) was born in Chicago, Illinois. After early forays into art and design he worked as a photographer for the Police Department and an aircraft company. After the war he purchased a tiny Cessna 170n plane and began capturing the landscape on camera, creating the images for which he is now renowned. Garnett’s photography expresses a deep rooted interest in conservation and desire to preserve the landscape. He received three Guggenheim fellowships and his work has been exhibited by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles among many others.
New Perspective for a New Year
This photograph is the view from the FT building where I just took part in the first Walpole Crafted cohort meeting of the year. I am more used to being surrounded by trees or a sawdust filled studio - so soaking up this panoramic of London, getting to know my fellow Crafted participants and exploring my practice from a new perspective was a refreshingly different start to 2016.
The Crafted programme was founded to nurture talented craftspeople, keep their skills alive and showcase their talents to a wider audience. I am one of the seven participants who were selected by a panel of judges for the Crafted Class of 2015. Fellow mentees include my talented Cockpit Arts neighbour Mark Tallowin as well as Alexandra Llewellyn, Insley & Nash, Silvia Weidenbach, Struthers-London and Theresa Nguyen.
Part of the programme includes one-to-one mentorship and I have been paired with the inspirational Edward Mason of Mason Campbell, who is already encouraging me out of my comfort zone and into some interesting new territories. I’ll look forward to sharing more of these new experiences as they unfold this year.
“...exceptional quality of making and materials provide the tangible foundations that ever-more discerning consumers increasingly demand. The Crafted Class of 2015 is one of the most talented intake we have had.” - Guy Salter, Founder and Chairman of Crafted
‘Between Creation and Decay’ Feature
“I aspire to make simple but beautiful things with a purposeful form that you want to hold and touch, which take your somewhere else and remind you of our relationship with the world.”
I was interviewed by Corinne Julius for the latest issue of Crafts Arts International. ‘Between Creation and Decay - the Woodworking of Eleanor Lakelin’ is the most in-depth article about my practice to date and, as curator of Future Heritage, Corinne has a great understanding of my work. The full five page story can be found alongside features on many other inspiring artists in Issue #95. Here is a short extract:
“Vessels bleached white with strange whorls of holes and accretions evoke the image of decaying sheep’s skulls, others like multi-magnified sea urchins have strange nobbled surfaces as if the sea has worn away the spines to uneven lengths and rounded them, still others have the feel of woven African baskets; such are the striking works in wood by Eleanor Lakelin.
Her pieces are highly accomplished and very contained; a world in wood that sits on a surface in its own space, yet invites the viewer to look inside. ‘I’ve always wanted hands to be drawn to pieces … I want pieces to be solid enough to touch as I think by handling something we can be absorbed and taken to a new level of experience. I think that’s why I’m so interested in texture…both the natural texture of burr and by carving and sandblasting,’ explains Lakelin.”
Site-specific artwork for Somerset Arts Week
Most of my work to date has explored the depth of connection we have to nature and landscape. Through turning and carving, vessels grow and emerge from a chunk of tree and both form and surface reference natural forms and the texture of landscape. To actually place sculptural forms in the landscape or outside environment is a natural development so I was very pleased to be approached this year by Karina Joseph of Field to explore this idea further through creating my first site-specific work. The piece was part of ‘Sensing The Landscape’, a broader project exploring sensory encounter with the garden environment.
On the outside of some of my recent vessels the texture gradually erodes from the bottom surface towards the mouth of the vessel; sharp peaks become rounded and smoothed as if by age and elemental processes. For 'Eroding Form', my largest scale piece to date, I have created three solid, textured spheres in green oak to reinterpret and separate this process of erosion into three phases or moments in time, each sphere representing a step in thesoftening, layering and fissuring of time. Material usually found in a garden or landscape has been transformed and returned to sit and be viewed in the lush rural garden of Aller Farmhouse during Somerset Arts Week through the changing colours of vegetation and light.
Fellow ‘Sensing the Landscape’ artists include: Edward Chell, Kim Francis and Fay Stevens. and limited editions will be available to purchase from the Field gallery website. The project was curated by Field in partnership with Somerset Art Works and National Garden Scheme (NGS). Funded by Arts Council England and donations.
Installation Curated by The New Craftsmen
This September The New Craftsmen invited eighteen makers to reinterpret a bowl of specific shape and dimensions within the scope of their individual craft practice. Pursuing the concept of an ‘Anthology of British Craft’ they will transform the VIP Lounge at Decorex International in collaboration with House & Garden Magazine.
I have created two new pieces with particular provenance for the show: 'The Wellington' in cedar and 'Chasing Silk' in mulberry. The name of the latter references James I ill fated plan to cultivate silk worm by planting black mulberry. Some four acres of Mulberry Garden were planted at the grounds of Buckingham Palace in 1608. Furthermore landowners were ordered to purchase and plant 10,000 of this species. The plan is said to have failed as silk worms only feed on the leaves of white mulberry.
My work will also be exhibited at Decorex as part of Future Heritage curated by design and applied arts critic Corinne Julius as 'a definitive guide of today’s most important designer-makers and the names to collect in British craft in 2015'.
Following Decorex my 'Bowls of Britain' pieces will be showcased at The New Craftsmen and will be available to buy online.
Photograph by George Sydney.
Designs on the Duke of Wellington’s Tree
I only work with wood felled in the British Isles and I’m always fascinated by the provenance of my materials and how this shapes my process and work. There is always an interesting tale to tell, however my latest commission from the National Trust is even more extraordinary than most.
In the summer of 2014, a great cedar tree planted by the Duke of Wellington in 1827 had to be felled at the National Trust property Kingston Lacy. I have been asked to create a collection of vessels from this beautiful, historical tree, to mark the 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo in June.
My work will be on display in the Spanish room of the house, as apparently it was during his time in Spain that the once Lord of the Manor, William Bankes, collected Art and cemented his friendship with the Duke of Wellington. The vessels will also be available to purchase online from the National Trust - offering a unique opportunity to invest in a piece of history. I’m happy to say that proceeds will help fund conservation works at Kingston Lacy.
Springing into new projects thanks to Arts Council England
I’m starting Spring with various new projects thanks to a new Grants for the Arts award from Arts Council England. A talented young photographer, George Selwyn-Brace, will be documenting me at work in the studio.
A showcase of his photography, which will depict the processes undertaken in my practice, will then be exhibited at a series of public events. This starts with Cockpit Arts Open Studios, Deptford, 15-17 May as part of London Craft Week. The grant has also allowed me to buy a Centauro industrial bandsaw in order to develop a new body of work. This beast of a machine will allow me to work at a larger scale with greater efficiency and scope for experimentation. The five-person struggle to get it into the studio has definitely been worth it!
Making a Milan Furniture Fair Debut
The three vessels pictured here were made using Horse Chestnut Burr from a tree planted in 1710. They are lathe-turned and then sandblasted to finish removing the bark. Dental tools are used to remove bark from hard to reach holes and crevices before the forms are either bleached or ebonised.
These pieces are part of a wider collection which I shipped to Italy in March to be exhibited by Despina Curtis Studio for the Carl Hansen showcase at Milan Furniture Fair. The show, also known as Salone del Mobile, is considered to be the global benchmark for home furnishings.
I have long held an interest in exhibiting at Milan since my days as a furniture-maker, so I was particularly delighted when this opportunity arose. The connection with Carl Hansen, who has a strong emphasis on craftsmanship also seemed very fitting - “Craftsmanship can be alot of things. To us, it is everything and it has been so ever since 1908 when Carl Hansen founded his company in Odense, Denmark.”