How did you start out on this path? Did you always know this was what you wanted to be doing?

I have made things from wood and been very practically minded since I was young but growing up there was no perceived value in hand-made – it was all about cheap flatpack furniture and the throw away culture. Recently there is a very healthy backlash to this and people are thinking a lot more about where things are made and how long that will last. This movement has allowed me to start to make high-quality work with hand tools. If I am honest, I think I have always loved working with natural materials and always been a frustrated Product Designer. Designing fictional objects from wood is like a dream come true!

How has your work evolved since you first started making?

I believe very firmly that anyone can be creative if they simply practice very regularly in their chosen medium. This practice forms a feedback loop which helps move one’s work forward and an artist find their own voice. I started making with a project to design and make a wooden spoon each week for a year and publish the results online. As well as giving me a strong foundation in edge-tool use, this year long project helped me find my voice as a maker. My current passion is to go deep inside the slate mines of north Wales to bring out 100 year old oak which is full of rich colour and make from this. The objects I made from the oak can’t help but be influenced by the experience in the mines and quarries the wood is recovered from.

 

How do you approach your time in the workshop to get yourself into the right frame of mind for creating/making? Do you work better at certain times of the day?

I believe in finding a state of ‘flow’ in working with green wood. This is where you are not consciously working the wood but letting your hands feel the shapes emerging and the tools feel the grain of the wood to make the outcome a sum of what I initially intended to make, plus, what the wood dictates. Achieving this state requires being fresh, relaxed and open to the environment around me. I am a daytime maker really as my lovely ten year old son is demanding of my time in the evenings!

 

How do you challenge yourself within your work? Do you always see yourself working in this medium?

The challenge for me is two-fold. There is the technical skill in green woodworking and understanding different woods, which is really a lifetime of learning. The second challenge is design and coming up with original and satisfying ideas.

 

What would/has been your ideal commission?

 

I love commissions from talented chefs. Chefs often have a specific dish or ingredient in mind and would like me to come up with a creative solution to serving the dish, using wood. This might be as simple as spoon or fork, or as complicated a bowl from a huge hunk of wood.

 

We know that social media channels such as Instagram play a pivotal role now in giving a platform to artists. To what extent has it benefitted you?

Social media gives me the opportunity to reach a global market, which is huge, but mainly I enjoy the story telling side of producing photography and comment around my work and the natural world around me. I treat social media as an art project in its own right, not a marketing chore. That changes everything.

 

Do you think it’s possible for it to ever truly replace a traditional bricks and mortar gallery?

No, I am inspired constantly by things I see online, but I only really have an emotional connection / memory of work I have actually seen in the flesh in the controlled environment of a gallery.

 

Is there a recent exhibition that you have loved so much and encouraged everyone to go see?

I haven’t seen the Cardiff David Nash exhibition yet, although I love his work. The exhibition of his 50 years of making has moved to Eastbourne on the south coast now, about as far from north Wales as it gets! I am working on getting there however.

 

What does the future hold for you and your work? Do you have any exciting plans for 2020?

On a very practical level, I need to work on the business side of making in 2020. I would love to be able to make a comfortable living from what I make, but that takes a really solid business plan with multiple income sources to be sustainable as a maker. That’s the real goal for me now – to be able to do work hard at what I love for the long term.

How did you start out on this path? Did you always know this was what you wanted to be doing?

I’d always known I wanted to make work but in truth I hadn’t seen myself working with bronze and most certainly not as a ‘founder-sculptor’ with the foundry being so central to my practice. My decision to read History of Art opposed to Fine Art as a degree was actually a consequence of knowing I wanted to make my own work. I wanted to gather as many references and influences as I could, not necessarily limited to the perspective of one schoool of thought or tutor’s preference. Finding a way back to the studio following a very academic course inadvertently led me to working with bronze – a little serendipity.

How has you work evolved since you first started making?

First in the change of medium – moving from painting to three dimensional work and casting. Within that, it’s changed a great deal as I’ve learnt more about the process and the materials I work with. Within my broader practice, the content of my work shifts quite frequently. It’s often tied to what i’m reading or researching project by project. Some projects like my Pomarius studio have grown and gained their own independence as an ongoing craft design series but the work still feeds back into my general practice and the development of new works with a very different aesthetic.

How do you approach studio time – get yourseld into the right frame of mind for creating/ making? Do you work better at certain times of the day?

I try to ensure I get to the studio everyday, even if I only manage a couple of hours. I also try to get some rest time/ space at weekends to read and find areas of interest even if that’s just going for a walk somewhere.

Casting my own work provides a strange tempo because you’re periodically pulling out of the purely creative acts and into more of a technician role to mobilise for a pour or the kiln. But i think that can also allow for some reflection time and builds a frustration or appetite to return and develop a piece or idea left waiting.

How do you challenge yourself within your work? Do you always see yourself working in this medium?

I think bronze and wax (as it’s the latter I feel i really work with) will always be integral to my practice. That said, I’ve shifted before and I can see building upon these materials within my work, adding to as opposed to abandoning this way of working.

What would/ has been your ideal commission?

With Pomarius, i’ve always loved working closely with an individual with a real insight into botany and gardening as there’s so much to learn from them. That and commissions that come from deeply personal stories and relationships with places. Those commissions are always the most rewarding and I find the works are enriched by provenance.

We know that social media channels such as Instagram play a pivotal role now in giving a platform to artists. To what extent has it benefitted you?

                    Do you think its possible for it to ever truly replace a traditional bricks and mortar gallery?

I think artists and curators have been discussing a question like this since the 1930s. There have been various trajectories and new mediums created to explore the experience and reception of artwork, the requirement of physical presence by work and role of audience. I’m always inclined to be a little distrustful of a total denial of our physical being and the particular sensation that comes from being present with an object or in a place. The idea that it can be completely replaced somehow saddens me and feels a little tied up with a techtopian attitude. I think that experience/ reception should be defended where it can.

That said, I have to be careful working in a medium with such conservative connotations not to seem bias against new media. It is great seeing work that you’d otherwise never see or hear through these platfolms and to have your own work seen in the same way.

Is there a recent exhibition that you have loved so much and encouraged everyone to go see?

Unfortunately this show was ages ago but it really stayed with me – Rose Wylie’s exhibition at the Serpentine Galleries was really insightful. I’d love to see Eddie Martinez’s bronzes again too.

What does the future hold for you and your work? Do you have any exciting plans for 2020?

I’m intending to return and exhibit the works I began in Austrailia earlier this year. Myself and my casting /foundry partner, artist Freddy Morris, are hoping to run a participatory bronze casting project with a school out there too. I’m also looking forward to developing relationships with new gardens for Pomarius,

We’ve carefully selected some special books for our Makers Market 2018 – here’s our top ten choice for the season.

 

1. The Wild Dyer: A guide to natural dyes & the art of patchwork & stitch

Abigail Booth

By teaching you the foundations of natural dyeing, and guiding you through the simple stitch techniques, this book will allow you to dip in and out of projects while learning how to forage for and grow your own dye plants.’ In The Wild Dyer, Abigail Booth demystifies the `magic’ of natural dyeing and shows how to use the results to stunning effect in 15 exquisite patchwork and stitch projects. Focusing on how to grow or gather your own dyeing materials – from onion and avocado skins to chamomile and comfrey, nettles and acorns – as well as scouring, mordanting (using fixative) and setting up a dye vat, Abigail explains how to create effective dyes. And once you have them, how you can produce beautiful, contemporary textiles that can then be used to create projects that build on your skills.

 

2. Something of his Art: walking to Lübeck with J. S. Bach

Horatio Clare

Something of his Art is Horatio Clare’s recreation of the long walk that J. S. Bach took in the depths of winter in 1705 – his long walk to Lübeck across northern Germany, and visualising the light, landscape and wildlife the young, and as yet unknown composer would have seen.

 

3. Strudel, Noodles and Dumplings: The New Taste of German Cooking

Anja Dunk

A celebration of modern German home cooking, Strudel, Noodles and Dumplings is a long-awaited revival of this underserved national cuisine, proving that there is more to German food than Bratwurst and Black Forest gateau.

Anja Dunk’s German food is gently spiced, smoky and deeply savoury. From recipes such as whole-wheat buttermilk waffles to caraway roast pork and red cabbage, quince and apple slaw, her way of cooking is vibrant, honest, quick and deeply intertwined with the seasons and the weather.

Beautifully photographed and featuring over 200 recipes for the everyday family table, as well as for snacks and special occasions, Anja’s cook book is an essential guide to all the basics of German cuisine, providing inspiration for appetising and comforting meals throughout the year.

 

4. Snow

Marcus Sedgewick

Marcus Sedgwick’s beautiful examination of snow, and our fascination with it is divided into six chapters, like the six sides of a snowflake, and features the photographs of Wilson Bentley, who first photographed snowflakes in the 1890s.

 

5. Willow: Traditional Craft for Modern Living

Jenny Crisp

Master basket maker and willow grower, Jenny Crisp, teaches some of the key weaving techniques to make 20 simple willow projects without the need of complicated tools. Jenny’s approach is innovative and moves forward beyond the old patterns and boundaries, to allow the reader to make work that is fresh and for contemporary use.

 

6. Black Apples of Gower

Ian Sinclair

Iain Sinclair returns to the landscape of his youth, the Gower Peninsula in South Wales, beginning a new journey into his past, inspired by the poetry of Vernon Watkins and Dylan Thomas and the art of Ceri Richards, which illustrates this book.

 

7. Melinau Gwlân / Woollen Mills of Wales

Branwen Davies

The story of today’s Welsh working woollen mills, with photographs. Although each mill has its own unique story, the common link betwen them is the craftsmanship, passion and perseverance of the workers to keep the industry alive. In this colourful volume, Branwen Davies’s text and the photography of Iestyn Hughes come together to create a fascinating story.

Hanes melinau gwlân Cymru sy’n gweithio heddiw, ynghyd â lluniau. Er bod gan bob melin ei hanes ei hun, yr hyn sy’n gyffredin rhyngddynt yw crefft, angerdd a dycnwch y bobl hynny sy’n dal ati i gadw’r diwydiant yn fyw. Yn y gyfrol liwgar hon daw geiriau Branwen Davies a ffotograffiaeth Iestyn Hughes ynghyd i adrodd hanes hynod y melinau gwlân eiconig hyn.

 

8. A Love Letter from a Stray Moon

Jay Griffiths

Frida Kahlo transformed the emotional and physical pain of her life into art. Her paintings make visible the invisible, interior experiences of many women. They speak of loss, loneliness, her struggle to have children, her lovers, a bus accident that shattered her body and spirit. But they are also full of passion and warmth, each canvas a defiant celebration.

 

9. Wales in 100 Objects

Andrew Green

Wales in 100 Objects brings history to life, evoking key moments in Wales’ past through physical artefacts. The objects, chosen by author Andrew Green with the help of librarians, museum and gallery curators, and other experts, range from the ancient to the very recent, including items such as an iron sword dating from 1st century AD Roman rule, the earliest known copy of “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau”, and Raspberry Pi, the revolutionary coding computer for children first produced in Wales. All are represented by Rolant Dafis’ stunning photography, and given context by Green’s brief but fact-packed essays.

 

10. Merchant & Mills Workbook: A Collection of Versatile Sewing Patterns for an Elegant All Season Wardrobe

Make six classic garments and create a stylish multi-layered wardrobe from scratch. Full-size patterns are provided for a neat vest with a boxer back detail, an elegant bias-cut long-sleeved dress, a simple long gathered skirt with a drawstring waist, a batwing wrap top, an oversized drop-shoulder jacket and a pair of classic wide leg trousers. By choosing seasonal cloth, the versatility of these projects can be enjoyed from the first hint of spring to the end of winter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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