In June I attended the AAW Symposium in Pittsburgh USA. My good friend Stig from Sweden was so kind when we visited there in 2014 that I wanted to help him on his booth where he was demonstrating the amazing Tormek sharpening system. To my delight I was joined by my best young friend from Ireland, Adam Doran. We had a really great time sharing the lathe to show how sharp the tools were.
It was like being back at home when Adam visited – a Vicmarc lathe and good friends.
We had fun competing to see who could get the best continuous shaving off a small top.
After Pittsburgh I travelled to Philadelphia. I have visited many times, but I wanted time to really see the city and so I stayed there for a month. Courtesy of my friend of 20 years, Albert LeCoff of the Center for Art in Wood, I stayed at the University of the Arts where the International Turning Exchange was on. As a former participant, I enjoyed watching the residents explore new ways of working. I saw many old friends there, especially my dear friend Zina Burloiu from Romania. She and I first collaborated in 1998, so I was pleased to see her take her work to new heights.
The University of the Arts in downtown Philadelphia where I stayed.
Albert admiring one of the pieces Zina made during her residency.
Walking the streets of Philadelphia I came across these young musicians playing Bach.
It is a city full of life.
Next I went to Wilmington, North Carolina, to stay with Jean and Peg, the sweetest couple I know. Their house is on a wonderful country lane that ends at a shore filled with ever-changing light. Jean has the best workshop and we had a lot of fun exploring ideas and exchanging skills. I gave some lessons while I was there and found the local woodturning community are very good people.
The view from Jean and Peg’s house speaks for itself.
Jean and I had a great day exploring the USS North Carolina, a WWII-era battleship. What a great time!
I love Jean to bits.
After Wilmington I flew to Indianapolis to visit my American "sister", Betty Scarpino. I had not been there since I first visited in 1970 and was delighted to see that it has undergone a wonderful urban renewal. The downtown area has blossomed and Betty took me on a delightful tour. Just like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, the cleaned-up architecture is a joy. I also enjoyed seeing my friend, the wonderful wood artist Clay Foster, for the first time in years.
A beautifully crafted theatre from a bygone era.
My nation-wide trek next took me Los Angeles to stay with Carmen de la Paz, the human energy machine. Carmen was very busy with a new TV series when I was there, but among other things we found time to visit the Getty Museum. I just loved the Etruscan and Roman treasures.
This exquisite oil lamp, after two millennia, seems as fresh and witty as the day it was made.
The eternal Eve.
When I returned home I had only a few weeks to finalise preparations for my exhibition at Bungendore Wood Works near Australia’s capital, Canberra. This was my third solo show there, the previous two being in 1992 and 2004, as well as several joint exhibitions. So this year marks twenty-five years for me at this best wood art gallery in the world. I stayed with my friend, David MacClaren, the founder and owner of BWWG. I had also suggested to David that he invite Zina Burloiu as Artist-in Residence, so she and I were able to explore collaborative ideas that we had discussed in Philadelphia. For Zina, to visit a country she had admired from afar for most of her life was a dream come true.
I have always felt that the usual exhibition model (the opening, then the almost immediate departure) is unsatisfying. I wanted to engage with the local community more, so David agreed that I would demonstrate on weekends outside the gallery. It was a full month’s work and Zina joined me some of the time to impress the public with her skills. We also had the time to get to know the dedicated gallery staff and learn what it takes to make a gallery like this a success. Zina and I visited the Woodcrafters Guild in Canberra to demonstrate and learn, and we judged their annual competition. I have been there before and it is still one of the best wood groups I know. I took a carving class there from Zina and enjoyed working beside Richard Raffan while we tried to emulate her work.
Trees was the best body of work I have ever put together.
The crowd at the opening made me feel very proud.
I had photos of my Trees printed on canvas and here they seem to protect Zina’s delicate work below.
After so long abroad, it was wonderful to see this very Australian view from David’s gate
as I drove to the gallery every morning.
There could be nothing more Australian than meeting these two.
When Zina first saw kangaroos I thought she was going to faint with joy.
It was a rare pleasure to work beside a friend of many years and to have the unhurried time
to talk with anyone who wanted to know what we were doing.
Cheers to David for this opportunity.