Wednesday, 29 February 2012

New Greenwood Scheme - the beginnings of a new movement?

View around Witherslack, Cumbria.
Last weekend, a group of coppice workers and designers came together in a creative melting pot at Charlie Whinney's workshop in Cumbria to think, design and make using greenwood working techniques. Our aim was to thrust our skills and knowledge as greenwood workers into the contemporary market, bringing our craft bang up to date with modern design items suitable for the high end market. Ambitious? Absolutely!

After a day coppicing for various sizes of materials including hazel and ash we were each given a brief . My brief for example was called "Picture This". Can you make picture frames using reclaimed bits of glass? It should sell for between £10 - £100, to be made within 1/4 - 2 hours. I had a few ideas, but needed to test them out, and could they be made within the timescale?

On day two the designers arrived, we had introductions to everyone and their work, and then mixed into groups and given the 1/2 hour jam jar challenge by Charlie. Make something contemporary with greenwood, utilizing a jam jar!

There were lots of lighting ideas, some more complicated than others. I spent a frantic session on the pole lathe turning a stake for a garden light our team had devised. (I especially liked the twisted honeysuckle cabling that came out of this.) I then had a little idea of my own and had a go at my vase idea with oak spills that Owen Jones (Swill Basket Maker) had brought along.

Blackwell Arts and Craft’s house, Cumbria.
Later that day we went to a conference at Blackwell Arts and Craft’s house in Windermere, Cumbria. There were some very simple and beautiful rooms here, not to mention the stunning views.

Talks were by Kathy Haslam, curator at Blackwell on the politics of the Arts and Crafts Movement, Ray Leigh on Gordon Russell and the Utility Scheme and key note speech by the designer Michael Marriott added to our own discussions on design and the coppice movement. Later that evening we all enjoyed an impressive meal courtesy of our hosts who own the Witherslack estate. Some of the party got a bit merry!

Lighting idea.
 On day three and four we finally began work on our various designs using different greenwood materials and techniques, not all were successful and some ideas evolved through the process. The designers left us to work on our ideas having been inspired by the materials and scope of possibilities.
Here are a few photos taken by Maria, the wonderful organizer from Grizedale Arts. There were an awful lot more design ideas and prototypes which are not shown watch this space! It is hoped that the final designs will form part of a contemporary greenwood pattern book so that other greenwood workers can make these items too.

There will be an exhibition of this work and hopefully a lot more will come out of this. We all found it highly beneficial as greenwood workers coming together, inspiring each other as designer/makers and seeing the potential of our craft. Hopefully, we can begin to push our craft into the contemporary market, offering a sustainable and intelligent alternative to plastic, throw away, mass produced consumer products.

Recipe book stand by Matt Turley

Necklace by Gerry Smyth
Tea light holder by Vicky Naylor

Table made by Pete Lanyon with design
assistance from Gemma Matthias.

Vase by Elizabeth Cadd
Hat stand by James Mitchell

Stool made by Ian Taylor, designed by Jack Smith

You can join the newly formed
New Greenwood Scheme
facebook to keep up to date.

1 comment:

  1. Really love this work thank you for sharing it