Latest photo shoot.

17 07 2015

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“From dining to coffee”

12 12 2014

IMG_3315This table is in oak. It was made by deconstructing and reconfiguring an old 1930’s dining table. The legs are turned inside in the same fashion as the balustrade collection and the top is in strips, with the spaces between allowing light through.

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“Turning the Inside Out”

11 12 2014

These tables are made from newel posts and balustrades, all reclaimed of course. I’ve turned the legs inside out to give a modern, square, angular look on the outside, and something of an ‘old colonial’ aesthetic on the interior. I like the way they embody the concept of ‘negative space,’ almost as though they have been magically transfigured.

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“Baker’s Dozen”

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“Baker’s Dozen”

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“High Tea”

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A sneak preview of projects in progression..

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“Self Portrait #1”

1 11 2014

The column is roughly my height, and probably about my weight. The sides and front aspects are intended to present an organised, if slightly fluffy, face to the world, although the apparent softness in texture, caused by wood splintering out from the back of saw cuts, is in reality not soft at all, but potentially hazardous, like a prickly caterpillar. However, if you take the trouble to walk around to the back, it’s true form is revealed as higgledy-piggledy, chaotic and hopelessly disorganised.

Like geological strata, the layers contain a sort of historical record, although one that is open to many possible interpretations. They’re made predominantly from about fifteen different types of timber from my collection. Some are found, some given, some have sentimental value, but all have a story attached. There’s some beautiful reclaimed timber in there, including oak, purple heart and cedar, as well as some throwaway scraps of plywood, cardboard, and off-cuts of material from a shirt I had made in India; quite a mixed bag of very personal connotations and meanings. I hope that their assembly brings them new life, awakens them.

Art, like life, is an evolutionary process. It doesn’t spring into existence fully formed, but develops out of the ideas, materials, techniques, and human stories that have gone before. Layer upon layer builds up, and the result can only be properly understood by comprehending the result as a whole, noticing which elements reinforce each other, and which elements stand out in stark contrast. It’s all about context.

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“Block Work”

6 04 2014

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This work is part of a series of sculptural compositions created from plywood blocks reclaimed from the roof of an Auckland house. I routed out various grooves and channels at random, cut the plywood sheets into pieces, and fixed the pieces in pairs. The result is many thousands of similar but never identical components, providing a huge variety of surface shapes and intervening spaces to work with.

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The meanings of the various objects that have emerged are very much tied up with the nature of the material itself. The process of making them has been about experimenting with notions of space and time, and allowing unexpected patterns to establish themselves as the object’s interaction with the environment becomes unstable.

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I really enjoy the immense repetition and laboriousness of this way of working. I find that I switch off and go into a Zen-like meditative state, which gives me time to think, or rather not think, whilst translating something of myself into the object. In a way it is a form of cathartic release.

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Above all, I love the challenge of creating something beautiful and meaningful out of a material that would otherwise have been discarded as landfill.

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The material at first yielded smaller decorative objects…

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…and then two larger sculptural pieces for exhibition at the university, both of which allowed me to explore the possibilities of the material rather more profoundly.

The first piece I call “The Arrow of Time”.

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It’s about the process of transition between two extremes: order and chaos. The ordered and predictable stack is apparently transformed into complete disorder, as if it had eroded, crumbled or decayed over time.

As humans we believe we ‘experience’ time flowing forwards – from past to future, from order to disorder or, in terms of thermodynamics, from lower to higher entropy; hence the ‘arrow of time,’ which flies in only one direction.

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In fact, the piece tells us nothing about the direction of time. It still makes perfect sense if we invert our interpretation  and observe order being spontaneously created out of chaos, suggesting that time itself can be reversed.

A question: which of the two ends of the process is more random? Remember that each of the bricks possesses its own element of randomness, and there are far more of them per cubic meter packed into the ‘ordered’ end than are in the jumble. Perhaps our immediate perception of order and chaos is reversed. Entropy can be confusing like that; just when you think you’ve got a handle on it, it changes direction.

One must think of objects not as singular but made up of many parts, each of which contains the seeds of destruction or creation of the whole. No two bricks are identical, meaning that even the highly ordered stack encapsulates a high degree of randomness, which is released during its decay, or captured during its assembly.

Whichever way you look at it, the theme of entropy is immensely powerful. It is the creator of life, our world, and the entire universe. It is the destroyer that will eventually bring about collapse, death, and the end of everything.

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The second piece I named “Brahma and Shiva”, after the Hindu gods of creation and destruction.

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At a basic level, the piece evokes the eternal opposites: light and darkness; good and evil; yin and yang; creation and destruction. Like two sides of the same coin, one entity needs the other in order to exist.

The randomness encoded in the component blocks themselves, and the arbitrary process of assembling them, means that the objects cannot be comprehended at a single glance. Every solid plane, every space between, is subtly different to every other. Superficially, the pair appears to consist of a simple inversion but, on closer inspection, each object reveals its own unique DNA.

Because of the high degree of surface detail, and the fact that there is no intrinsic clue to the objects’ scale, they could represent cells viewed through an electron microscope, engaged in spawning new life, or planet-sized science fiction spaceships locked in mortal embrace.

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Seen as a whole, the two opposing forces merge into one, creating a synthesis, a balance, that is the very stuff of existence.





“Shooting Star”

15 08 2012

This project developed from an unusually wide-ranging brief entitled ‘Multiplier’. It called for four weeks of general experiment, followed by two weeks focusing on a single product. I explored a dozen or more ideas, from slumped-glass caterpillars to a single chair crafted by twenty-four different participants. What emerged from the process was the realisation that highly complex objects can be constructed from a large number of comparatively simple components that readily lend themselves to repetitive manufacture – obvious really.

I decided to develop the ideas I started in the Sugar Bush project, using multiple strips of reclaimed cedar to create a multifaceted flower form, but this time the pieces would be steam-bent to achieve the sculpted organic shapes I was looking for. It would be built to house a single 75-watt halogen lamp, and to hang from the ceiling in a large space, perhaps an art gallery.

My first attempt used 24 shaped and bent strips of wood and, I have to say, the result was a disappointing failure – it was just too… well, boring. So it was back to the drawing board with the realisation that I would need to add more pieces to make it interesting – a lot more. In the end I used over 650 pieces to achieve the desired complexity, all slightly different to each other.

 

To suspend it from the ceiling, I made a long stem to house the wire and to give a texture something like a palm trunk. The effect is like a rocket tail, or a shooting star.





“Sugar Bush”

15 08 2012

This project began as an investigation into how materials react to long exposure to a harsh outdoor environment; how they distort and acquire patina over time. I wondered how I could create a design that embraced these changes rather than resisting them. I wanted to make something that would emerge organically over a long period, with an outcome that was calculated but not exactly known.

I took the protia flower (known as ‘sugar bush’ in South Africa on account of its sweet centre) as my starting point, and constructed a few small-scale prototypes using strips of MDF and a light bulb. I soaked the MDF in water and watched the glass bulb gradually splay out the wooden petals like an opening flower.

For the full-scale version, I decided on strips of well-seasoned cedar (reclaimed from a disused pergola) for the enveloping petals. Cedar has a naturally high oil content and will last untreated for many years but, if subjected to a steady pressure, it will inevitably bend when it’s wet. After much careful design work at the drawing board, I cut over 300 thin strips of wood in four different lengths, proportioned according to the golden ratio, and assembled them in six layers around a circular base. The strips were left rough sawn on the outside, but planed smooth on the inside.

For the central bulb I cut a circular piece of ordinary window glass and slumped it in the kiln to form a dome. The glass softens at 712˚C and droops in free air into a natural parabola shape. The glass was then annealed at 540˚C for five hours and allowed to cool down very slowly. The whole process took 33 hours. I cut off the rim and sprayed the interior surface of the glass a transparent red. I made a heavy tapered wooden base, inset it with 200 led lights and covered them with a two-way mirror, which allows the lights to shine out at night, and presents a perfectly reflective surface during the day.

At last, liberally waxed, the sealed central assembly is carefully inserted into the framework of petals. The idea is that the weight (approximately 40Kg) of the glass interior will slowly distort the wooden petals, sinking lower as it splays them out to reveal more and more of the red bud inside – a process that should continue over many years. At the same time, the petals will slowly turn a silvery grey and perhaps twist, as rain and sun take their effects. As with a real flower, water is drawn through rather than rejected, and becomes an essential part of the process by which the piece will gradually change and evolve in response to its environment.

For the time being, the petals are tightly drawn in, inviting you to peer inside which, perhaps unexpectedly, immediately presents you with the agreeably spicy aroma of cedar. For now it’s not giving itself away at a single glance but, over time, it should slowly open up and transform into – well, who knows what exactly? It’s an experiment, and I’ll be watching what happens to it over the coming years with interest.