Signature in Wood at Sarah Myerscough Gallery

21st September 2021
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Art has many different branches, but what holds them together – what all art has in common – are two elements that must always be present: poetry – there has to be some kind of poetry – and a healthy dose of construction. Without the two, there is no art.

This musing, by twentieth-century sculptor Eduardo Chillida, perfectly befits an exhibition that celebrates twelve acclaimed international artist-designer-makers working in wood, including QEST Winch Design Scholar Max Bainbridge of Forest + Found and QEST Turners’ Company Scholar Eleanor Lakelin. The makers all have a proximity to construction, to knowing the inside-out of their work’s finished form, which inevitably leads to a poetic enthralment with their chosen material. The singular, career-defining pieces of sculptural furniture and objects represented in Signature in Wood push timber to its conceptual and practical limits; in doing so, the artists endeavour to communicate emotionally through making and material.

At the foundation of each artist’s practice is an acutely temporal and spatial relationship to wood. Labour-intensive processes – turning, carving, and sanding – later give way to surface treatments such as polishing, burnishing, dying and liming. Rich and compelling patinas carry subtle aromas and engage us in an instinctually sensory understanding of the work. These deft languages of making are underpinned by complex artistic concerns.

Herein lies Chillida’s poetry; in the right hands, a material that is raw, powerful, malleable and mercurial leads to a correspondingly captivating work. The psychological journey taken by the maker during this sculpting process is often brutal, yet within the same stroke beautiful, delicate and restrained. The final expression enfolds this experience within its fibres, so that the indelible signatures of artist and timber are intertwined and ever-present.

Featured artists include : QEST Winch Design Scholar Max Bainbridge / Forest + Found, QEST Turners’ Company Scholar Eleanor Lakelin, Nic Webb, Gareth Neal, Julian Watts, Michael Peterson, Ernst Gamperl, Christopher Kurtz, Wycliffe Stutchbury, Egeværk, Katrien Doms, Jim Partridge & Liz Walmsley.

Open 24 September – 13 November 2021 at Sarah Myerscough Gallery.

Deadstanding IV (2021) Max Bainbridge