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Report from Nepal

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What a great experience it was be invited by the International Wood Culture Society to participate in another collaborative sculpture project. Three years ago I travelled to China, and then this year I was fortunate enough to get the chance to visit Nepal.

What made it particularly special was getting to spend the first two weeks of the trip in the centre of Bhaktapur, a beautiful town about 13km east of Kathmandu. Despite all the devastating damage from the earthquake last year it is still an incredible place to be. It is filled with amazing temples, intriguing alleyways, mountain vistas and friendly people. My hotel room looked out over Durbar Square, one of three in the Kathmandu valley, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This was just a couple of minutes walk to Vidyarthi Niketan School where we were working.

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Our team of 19 artists (14 international and 5 local) started with a day trip to the ancient Hindu temple of Changu Narayan, Swayambhunath (commonly known as the monkey temple) and Durbar Square in Kathmandu to get inspiration. The next day during we come together again to begin brainstorming about what we will create as a team during our time in Nepal. It soon becomes clear that we would all like to create something for the school that we are working at. It is a school for underprivileged children and they had very little to play on and so everyone quickly agreed that it would be great to build them an interactive sculpture.

After a couple of days the decision is made that the sculpture made here would not be exhibited at World Wood Day. As the design progresses the form of the sculpture meant that it would have a backbone of wire holding it together which would have to be attached to sturdy end posts cemented into the ground making it impossible to move. But there was another project waiting for the team so that wasn’t a problem. All of the team and many artists from around the world had brought and sent wooden carved bricks and it was up to us to incorporate them into another sculpture that would be exhibited at the main venue in Kathmandu. Within six and a half days, with basic tools and power only on at random times through the day, two big structures for the school were being built, carved and assembled, and the brick project had also been started.

After two great weeks in Bhaktapur, sadly we had to relocate to Kathmandu to an area with noise, pollution and little charm. Here all the carver, turners, and musicians came together to celebrate World Wood Day on the 21st of March. We pushed hard to finish the Brick project so that the other participants would be able to see the finished sculpture, and spot any bricks they had created. A highlight for me was seeing the Turan ensemble – a Kazakh folk music band created in 2008 by several students of the Kazakh National Conservatory. Using ancient wooden instruments and wearing ancient Kazakh costumes they were very impressive!

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It was absolutely amazing what our group achieved in such a short time. There was a varied selection of skills between us all which I think made for a great team. It was a real pleasure to work with such a friendly and diverse group, and the hard work and commitment of our two leaders Jacques Vesery and Cillian O’Suilleabhain made for a wonderful experience.

Heading to Nepal

I’m excited to be part of the Collaborative Wood Project again, organised by the IWCS (International Wood Culture Society) which this year will take place in Kathmandu, Nepal in March 2016.  Running alongside World Wood Day I will be working with 19 other woodcarvers from around the world to create a sculpture together, to be exhibited at the Royal Nepal Academy in Kathmandu.  Due to the earthquake last year and now the continuing blockade of essential goods coming from India it could be a challenging time, but I hope by being there we can help bring awareness to their continuing difficulties and involve local businesses and craftspeople in our project.

Jacques Vesery- USA [co-team leader]
Cillian O’Suilleabhain- IR [co-team leader]
John Van Der Kolk- Australia
Anees Maani-Jordan/ and now Malaysia
Jon Steinolfsson- Iceland
Henry Villalobos- Costa Rica
Louise Hibbert -United Kingdom
Nathalie Groeneweg – France
Aditi Agrawal- India
Charles Chambata- Zambia
Natanahira Pona- New Zealand
Wang Haibo- China
Lukman Alade Fakeye- Nigeria
Michael Cullen- USA
Miguel Geronimo Villalba- Argentina
Shanta Tuladhar- Bungamati, Nepal
Indra Prasad [IP] Shilpakar- Bhaktapur, Nepal
Surya Bhadur Shilpakar – Bhaktapur, Nepal
Tara Prasad Ojha – Kathmandu, Nepal
Sarmila, Nepal

Part of the collaborative wood project in Kathmandu is ‘Brick by Brick’ which aims to include bricks made of wood created by woodworkers from around the world. This idea was formed when Cillian O’Suilleabhain and Jacques Versery went on a recce to Nepal and saw that there were still piles of bricks everywhere as a result of the earthquake and they thought it would be a fitting thing to have people send wooden bricks that they have made as a gesture of support and awareness of the continuing crisis. So if anyone out there is interested, the bricks need to be 21cm long x 8cm deep x 5cm high, with any carving / decoration on just one of the 21cm x 5cm sides. It would be great for people to use their native woods (nothing endangered) and to keep any colour to a minimum to create a united look. They request that you send them to Nepal before March 1st 2016 and you can ask me for the address.

 

earthquake aftermath in Kathmandu

Clay Barn Summer Exhibition

I’m very happy to be showing again at Louise Darby’s beautiful studio again this weekend 5th-8thJune 2015.  I hope the weather improves as she has a lovely garden and it would be better enjoyed in sunshine!  I’ll be showing some of my new Coleoptera boxes as well as my kitchen range of mills etc.  I just hope I manage to finish some of the mills I’ve got in production at the moment as I think I caught a cold from my niece Hannah who was up visiting last weekend with my sister Judith and nephew Joe.  We had a great weekend and even made it up Snowdon for the first time with the help of my partner Mark, but the cold brings on my asthma which doesn’t mix very well with sawdust!  Anyway, I digress…inviteinvite 2

Calosoma Box

New Beetles for COLLECT

I am very happy to be showing with the Ruthin Craft Centre at COLLECT this year for the first time. I will be exhibiting a selection of my Coleoptera Boxes. These two that you see below are both new boxes made especially for the show.  Curculio Box was made with the help of a jeweller from Sheffield called John Furness who set the turquoise stones for me.  Although I have been doing a lot more metal work, I haven’t yet attempted any stone setting, but I really wanted to add eyes to some of my new Coleoptera pieces.
The exhibition is at the Saatchi Gallery, London and runs from the 8th – 11th May 2015.
You can find out more information at http://www.craftscouncil.org.uk/what-we-do/collect/

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MADELondon 241 offer!

MADELONDON returns to One Marylebone this October. Get 2 for the price of 1 tickets to the show by clicking the link below.

MADE LONDON

The Design & Craft Fair

24 – 26 October 2014, One Marylebone, NW1 2AQ

www.madelondon.org

2 for 1 Ticket Offer

MADE LONDON is the annual showcase for the very best and most original contemporary designer-makers in the UK and beyond. Over 150 talented designers exhibit and sell their work direct to the public within this dramatic and beautiful building, in a relaxed and friendly environment (see all exhibiting makers here)

We’d like to offer you the chance to buy two tickets for the price of one. Use this exclusive link to buy 241 tickets

New Beetles for Ruthin

In July this year I started designing some new coleoptera inspired boxes for my show coming up at Ruthin Craft Centre – a beautiful gallery in North Wales.  The show is called ‘Is it Wood’ and is curated by Mary La Trobe Bateman OBE (who used to be the director of Contemporary Applied Arts).  Other artists include:

Peter Archer / Fred Baier / Dail Behennah / Roger Bennett / Chatwin : Martin / Eleanor Glover / Nicola Henshaw / Eleanor Lakelin / Lina Peterson / Anthony Roussel / Sophie Smallhorn / Wycliffe Stutchbury / Rupert Williamson

Bringing together 14 unique makers, who through their innovative and original ideas, challenge our traditional perceptions of wood.

I hope this colourful exhibition challenges traditional ideas about working with wood.
I hope it causes some surprises.
I hope it counters the response to so much work that is handmade in wood by inviting the visitor to look beyond the surface and the skill of the making to see the original ideas and innovations of each individual artist.
And I hope that the exhibition is enjoyable!

Mary La Trobe-Bateman, Curator.

You can find out more about the show at Ruthin Craft Centre  It runs until Nov 30th 2014.

Ruthin private view

It was great to finally see my pieces exhibited at the Ruthin Craft Centre on Sept 26th 2014!  Mary had put my beetles on a plinth with the beautiful bowls of Roger Bennett from Dublin who I’d met and worked with last year on the Irish ‘stone’ wall.  Despite being a large space it seemed a lot of people had come out for the opening, including Eleanor Lakelin – another female turner that I’d met at the craft fairs in London.

I also got to meet Mary La Trobe Bateman who had curated the show, who was lovely!

It was interesting to see that a number of us had studied on the wood/metal/ceramics/plastics course at Brighton University, including Sophie Smallhorn who was in the same year as me! Here are some photos from the show including some of Julie Arkell’s wonderful quirky figures, Eleanor Glover’s puppets, Peter Archer’s beautifully textured vessels and the stunning box oak wall piece by Wycliffe Stutchbury.

West Dean College 20-22nd June

West Dean College Craft and Design Fair featuring MADE

I will be shortly exhibiting at a new craft fair taking place at the beautiful West Dean College in West Sussex on the 20th-22nd June – the West Dean Design and Craft Fair 2014, being run by the team that organise the high quality London and Brighton Made shows that I have exhibited at before so it should be great!

You can find out more information at the following link:

<https://www.westdean.org.uk/Events/Outdoorevents/DesignandCraftFair.aspx>

And get a great 2for1 offer here –  2 tickets for the price of 1 using the code MADE241 until 12th June.

The West Dean Design and Craft Fair will feature around 85 innovative makers and designers who will show and sell their work to the public. Alongside the Fair, visitors can enjoy hands-on taster workshops and demonstrations in contemporary art and craft run by the College.

They are running this event in collaboration with the team behind the highly successful MADE London, MADE Brighton and the Brighton Art Fair. They’ll call on their experience to bring together an eclectic mix of talented exhibitors for your enjoyment.

Ticket price includes entry to the award-winning West Dean Gardens and plenty of delicious food and drink options will ensure visitors don’t go hungry! 

The show times are:

20-22nd June 2014 – Friday Saturday and Sunday from 10am – 5pm

You can purchase tickets in advance for £7.50 and £8.50 on the door which is great value as the normal entrance fee to the gardens is £8.10!

The China Experience – part 1

Harmony Project Video – another great video by Dillon, Gerry and Neo of the International Wood Culture Society

Back from China after what felt like a long month!  It was certainly an interesting experience and somewhat difficult to put into words in many ways.  The Chinese culture is so very different to our own that it was often difficult to comprehend the people there, and not be horribly frustrated with how they do things, especially with the addition of the huge language barrier.  I’m sure it was just as hard for them too!

As Douglas Adams said “for most of the time we found China baffling, and exasperating and perpetually opaque”. This was in 1988.  He also said “by the end of our stay in China I had learnt to accept that if you are driving along a two lane road behind another car or truck, and there are two vehicles speeding towards you, one of which is overtaking the other, the immediate response of your driver will be to also pull out and overtake.  Somehow, magically it all works out in the end”.  It seems that in over 25 years nothing much has changed (including the spitting and dreadful music) except the roads have got wider!

We spent the first couple of weeks in Dong Xiang at a factory that made intricate carved furniture and carved wooden statues.  The factory was within an Art Village that was under construction.  We stayed at a hotel about 20 minutes drive away – not knowing what to expect we were very pleased to have our own large en suite rooms!

During that time I met and worked with the other members of the international group that had been invited for this particular part of the trip- Jacques Vesery, USA, John Van Der Kolk, Australia, Lyonel Grant, New Zealand, Cillian O’Suilleabhain, Ireland, Zina Burloiu, Romania, Lorenz Demetz, Italy, Emmanuel Vuchi, Cameroon,  Yohanna , Tanzania and Terry Martin, Australia (who had invited a number of us) and Adam Doran from Ireland who was spending some time working with Terry and got included as Terry’s ‘assistant’ for the trip, plus the other ten Chinese carvers who would be working with us.

We started by making a jigsaw type piece – the idea of Lyonel – to help break the ice, with each of us carving a section in our own style. However it soon became clear that without any professional interpreters it would be impossible to work closely with the Chinese and discuss ideas for the main project.  This was very disappointing as it would have been fascinating to see how their thought processes differed from ours and I thought a large part of why we were there – to collaborate and learn from each other.  We compromised by splitting into two groups with the internationals making a massive arch out of camphor for the Chinese to carve, and the Chinese to making us a large gate out of ancient timber to work on.   It was a huge task to undertake, particularly as we had ceremonies and communist dinners to attend…and no flexibility with our working hours, unlike in Ireland where we were able to come and go as we wished.  Thankfully the workers at the factory were very competent and an incredible help, and despite the language barriers within our own group we were pretty happy and proud of the result!

 

My squid

My squid