1. Tell us about your practice?
After studying cabinet making and furniture design in the late 80’s, I began my career travelling the world as a cabinet maker and wood carver, making furniture and architectural joinery.
I worked on several historic renovation projects such as the reinstatement of the lost woodwork within the Royal Apartments at Edinburgh Castle, building and furnishing an oak timber-framed home in Palo Alto, California, and the Walraversijde Museum Project in West Flanders.
In 2001, I returned from the US and purchased a farmhouse with a derelict steading in Moray, Scotland. Having spent a year restoring the sandstone outbuilding and converting it into a workshop/studio, I started my own business making bespoke furniture to commission.
2. Tell us about your materials and techniques?
My work has recently shifted away from the functional constraints of traditional cabinet making to more abstract sculpture that is carved in the solid from huge sections of green (unseasoned) wood.
After decades of making furniture from stable kiln dried timber I am now ‘unlearning’ my trade and embracing the movement of the wood as it dries. It was difficult at first to make the leap and change the direction of my work, but I love the energy captured in the sculptures as they transform whilst drying out. It feels like I’m working with the wood rather than forcing the wood to submit to a given shape or form.
3. What inspired the work you are presenting with Craft Scotland at Collect 2022?
I am constantly inspired by details in nature, both present around me and from my memories, and I feel compelled to create work that echoes the natural environment.
My shell forms and carved vessels explore the intricate patterns of growth in the wood, attempting to capture the essence of the tree, which is perhaps our most intimate connection with nature. Using intuition and taking the lead from the grain, I allow the wood to guide me and help decide its final form.
4. What is your favourite piece that you are presenting at Collect?
Hoping to capture a particular moment or feeling, my favourite piece is always the one I am working on at the time. Of course, it never does, and instead creates another experience.
But if I must pick a finished piece, it would be the wall-hung sculpture “Letter from the Highlands”. Sculpted from a large section of 250-year-old elm, the abstract colours and textures written in the grain tell the story of the tree’s life. The whole of the message is contained in the way it has grown, precisely, to make use of what the environment has provided.
The message contained in the pattern is a time capsule reflecting the way tree grows, weather conditions and the environment surrounding it.
5. What do you hope the viewer will take away from this work?
Wood is a magical gift, it’s warm, tactile, it’s a substance of life, and a touchstone for our essential relationship with the natural world.
I hope that in today’s busy and increasingly more difficult to navigate world, my pieces will encourage the viewer to stop, allow them to feel the connection with nature and reflect on the simple things that enrich our lives.
And I also hope that my collection inspires the viewer to appreciate and celebrate the imperfections which make each of my pieces just like everyone of us unique.