Because of extensive international commitments over recent years, my own woodwork had been neglected, so last year I decided to stay home more to concentrate on making good things. The result is that from October 31st to December 6th, 2015, I exhibited my latest work at Bungendore Wood Works just outside of Canberra. The show was called TREES+.
I have had long and wonderful relationship with BWW since I first exhibited there in 1992, so it felt like a homecoming. The gallery owner, David MacLaren, is a good friend and I stayed at Bungendore for some weeks to make this more than the usual one-off opening. I demonstrated to the public at the gallery, as well as continued to make more work to exhibit using local woods. I wanted to create a sense of engagement with the gallery and its public, so it is something I really looked forward to.
The core of my exhibition was 14 Trees, my favourite work. I started making these particular Trees early in 2014 with help from my good young friend, Adam Doran from Ireland. Without his help, my hands might not have survived the brutally hard Red Mallee burl these trees are made from. It takes at least a year to go from a wet burl to a finished Tree, as the dry burls are impossible to carve, while rushing the drying process causes them to crack. I was recently interviewed by Australian Wood Review about this process, so if you want to hear me talking about it and see inside my messy workshop, go to: http://admin.woodreview.com.au/news/seeing-the-trees.
I call each of these pieces simply Tree. I feel they speak for the trees and that is enough. They range in size from 30 to 60 cm wide (1’ – 2’), although there is one that is only 12 cm wide (4.5”), small work that I will explore more in future. I also showed several pieces of turned work, including a few selected pieces from my latest book, The Creative Turner. At 68 years old some might think this could be my last exhibition, but nothing could be further from the truth. I have been energised and inspired by this return to my primary love of making things in wood. Already I have started making work for a show next year. Watch this space!