It’s the last day today of the 2021 Wizardry in Wood exhibition, normally held every four years by the Worshipful Company of Turners. I thought that I would be able to take part this year after it had been postponed from last year because of Covid but sadly I had to withdraw.
Like so many women I have been suffering with various symptoms that going through the menopause brings. It’s a very unpleasant time which throws up many challenges – particularly when it comes to trying to maintain your work levels. Not only have my energy levels and general mojo been down, my immune system has also been thrown out of wack and with Covid still very much with us I did not feel that it was a wise idea to travel to London and be at a show (hopefully) filled with people!
I did make a couple of sets of salt and pepper mills to send to the show which the organisers were kind enough to exhibit on their Bursary stand.
The pink and black mills were inspired by the beautiful Japanese magnolia trees, Magnolia Liliiflora. They began on a visit that I made to Bodnant Gardens in North Wales. This beautiful National Trust property is famous for its collections of plants from all around the world and among them are more than 500 magnolias. I love their large dramatic flowers graduating from a deep pink to white and so I used this as inspiration on the deeply carved sycamore base and top.
I also love the process of Shou Sugi Ban – the particularly striking method of preserving wood by charring which originated in Japan in the 18th century. Burning wood gives it a different softer black to colouring it with paints or dyes and accentuates the grain. So for the other mill base and top I scorched the surface of the turned elm and wire brushed it to bring out the beautiful three dimensional grain texture.
There is also a wonderful sunken pool surrounded by plants of all different purple hues which is one of my favourite parts of the garden. One of them is Osteospermum Purple Sun, with stunning flowers graduating out from purple to pink to yellow. The photos that I took of them led to this new second set of mills that I made for Wizardry in Wood. The bases of the mills are turned and carved before being airbrushed to match these vibrant colours, and the tops have a ‘blobbed’ texture to represent the centre of the flower.
I hope that all the other makers had a great show!
In the last few months I have been working on an exciting new collaboration with Chloe Needham, a paper artist also living in North Wales.
It has been really interesting working with someone who’s medium is completely different to mine and one I haven’t had any experience of before (except being slightly obsessed with cutting things up with scissors when I was at school!).
After some discussions together at Chloe’s house in Llanrwst we eventually decided on a design for a sculptural moth light. With me making the body and Chloe the delicate coloured wings, the moth would rest on a bare bulb hanging on a wall.
We were then very fortunate to be able to visit Rhyd-y-Creuau – the Field Studies Centre in North Wales (and where my partner Mark works) – where we were able to look at the moths caught the night before by Alice, and their collection of moths and butterflies. It was great to be able to see them in 3D, see how they moved and flew and look closely at the fine details.
Looking at the moth trap at Rhyd-y-Creuau
Chloe and Alice
Chloe and me
We are close to finishing the piece and hope to have it ready in time for me to show it at Wizardry in Wood in London this October (www.wizardryinwood.com)
I will be exhibiting in London from the 12th-15th Oct 2016 at Wizardry in Wood – organised by the Worshipful Company of Turners, and only held every 4 years. You can find out more and buy tickets at https://wizardryinwood.com/
One of the oldest Livery Companies in the City of London, the Turners’ Company was already a guild in the 12th Century. Some 200 years later, Edward III decreed that ‘wooden measures, as well for wine as for ale’ should be made only by ‘turnours’ with marks of their own – and the medieval turners established the English ‘pint’ as an official measure. In 1604 the Company received its Royal Charter from James I.
This year their one of competitions is commemorating the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London and I have made a special piece inspired by the start of the fire at the bakery at Pudding Lane which will be exhibited at the show.
Beautiful and amazing original works by over 70 of the world’s greatest contemporary woodturners
My latest project is a collaboration with Irish furniture maker Cillian O’Suilleabhain. We met in June during the Irish wall project, got on really well and decided it would be an exciting new venture to work together on some furniture pieces. The challenge was how to combine my finely detailed, organic work with the minimal geometric aesthetic of his furniture.
It’s taken a lot of experimentation, tests, and discussion but we are very happy with the results so far and are looking forward to showing them at the two London shows coming up soon.