The journey from a traditional English joinery and building background in Kent, to designing and making fine contemporary furniture on the Sunshine Coast of Australia, has been a long and varied one.
I was unusual, as a traditionally indentured apprentice, in having a thirst for the more contemporary; this led me to a summer school with Rod Wales at Parham House. That environment of fine craftsmanship and the designs and work of the John Makepeace studio all around lit a spark that has taken me on a two decade journey. Along the journey working on listed buildings, churches and cathedrals of southern England. Then, setting up a company specialising in high-end fit outs and installations in London. A long held desire took me and my partner to New Zealand and Australia travelling and working for two years, feeling and becoming more in tune with nature and the more creative crafts.
After a few years back in the UK applying for our Australian residency, my partner and I were off again. Living and travelling for two years through Asia, learning different languages and cultures. Seeking out and being taught by local wood carvers, bone carvers, weavers, traditional tattooists and jewelers, always looking and searching out people with passion, craft and skills.
Landing back in Australia with the decision to pursue this path in fine furniture and craft, I started looking at teaching schools. Realising I was far too obstinate to be taught along-side other students, (it wouldn’t be fair on them!), an encounter with Ross Annels led me to another bend in the road, two years as an intern with him. A contemporary furniture designer-maker, specialising in chairs at his studio up in the beautiful hills of the sunshine coast.
Learning new skills, falling in love with the beautiful Australian timbers and finding my own style with now two decades of experience, drawings, designs and sketches, it feels great to be starting this new chapter, bringing my thoughts and ideas to life.
How long have you been working with wood?
Apparently I was making things as soon as I was able to hold a small hammer, but in 2010 I took the plunge and started full time designing and making commissioned fine furniture, home wares and artworks.
How did you get started?
The transition to really honing my skills and trying to refine my style came firstly from a summer school with Rod Wales at John Makepeace’s school in the UK some twenty years ago - seeing the level of skill and attention to detail along with consideration to the natural beauty of timber was a real insight and honor. After many years and a few continents seeking out craftsmen and women to learn from, I came to the Sunshine Coast and made a connection with a local designer and artisan. A two year internship based on working in his studio in exchange for teaching and accommodation helped me grow, not only as a practitioner of the craft but as a person.
What is your greatest inspiration?
My greatest inspiration… that is a hard question and it can change from moment to moment. The beauty of a piece of timber when you cut open a log to reveal the grain and color. The strength of a tall weed moving in the breeze - the way nature has refined structures to be just strong enough but not over engineered. The way my two year old girl learns from the world around her and looks at things in her own way. So I guess nature and continual evolving of all living things would be the short answer.
What is the greatest challenge to owning and operating your own creative business?
Making enough money to survive, competing in a market with cheap imports, cheap labor and the complete desecration of the sustainable and green label. Well that and finding enough hours in the day...
What is the best thing about owning your own creative business?
For me being creative is a must for my happiness and sanity, the making of a life lived.