Hugh Wright “The work of a whole man, heart and head” Stanley Webb Davies

At school I was sent to the woodwork shop because I didn’t see the point of learning Latin. That’s where it all began. You spend so much of your life not realising that what one does is important.

My work is in the Art and Crafts tradition, but I went where my instincts took me, and did “art and crafts” work long before I knew anything about the Art and Crafts movement.

I love to find old furniture, and then use the wood. Old wood is stable, and has the lustre of age.

The wood tells you what to do. The design is a template to work from, not a programme to enslave the craftsman. The designer and the craftsman are equally important. The design is the inspiration; the crafting is the creation. I start with outline design, lines in chalk on wood, and then I follow my instinct.

I make new furniture from dry, stable wood. I also restore beautiful things to their old beauty and strength. I also take hazel or holly and carve sticks to treasure and admire, practical, enduring, and full of grace.

The process is as aesthetic as it is technical. The technical expertise enhances the aesthetic experience of the making. Drawing a plane along a grain, hearing its soft swish and seeing the curl of the shaving; this tells me that all is well, and gives me a profound appreciation of the wood, and of the tool itself.

Making a perfect joint by hand requires a high level of precision. The structure is part of the beauty, so why hide it? The joint is part of the design, and any decoration serves only to enhance the shape and texture of the whole. A small heart, sitting by itself, carved into a frame of beautiful wood, draws attention, not only to the heart, but to the context of the wood itself. Decoration is therefore the handmaid of function. That’s why the exposed jointing is important.

The tools are themselves works of art. They demand respect, and will reward the care given to them. I take time and give them respect. I use the sharpening stone both during and after, and use the palm of a hand to flick away the burr.

In the making there are two precious watchwords – Quality and Simplicity. The quality is in the choice of wood and the level of workmanship. Simplicity is in the structure and design. It may seem paradoxical, but there is complexity in the simplicity, in being selective in leaving and using space. I take pride in the marks of the tool on the wood. I am sparing in the use of sanding. I am patient in the finishing :- linseed oil – leave- rub with a cloth, then repeat two or three times. The result is not a high polish, but a deep luminous glow, and the single carved image is enhanced by the space around it.

I am concerned for the unseen as much as for the seen, even those areas which will be against a wall. The designer Hubert Simpson once said “God can see it”. Whether He can see it or not, I, the maker, can, and it has to be right.

What is it all about, this building and carving? For me it is about quality, simplicity of design, skill, and pleasure in the making and in the possessing, all applied with a profound awareness of the history of the art, and respect for the past masters. To see a piece through from start to finish is the ultimate satisfaction. It gives me a sense of pride and fulfilment. A machine can make more and faster, but not better.
Created By
Dayve Ward


Images - Dayve Ward (figment-photography.co.uk) Words - Gordon Baddeley (gordonbaddeley.co.uk)

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