Edward Teasdale

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I’m very excited this week to show work and thoughts from UK furniture designer and maker Edward Teasdale.

Edward Teasdale appeared on the UK Crafts scene in the 1980’s. He worked as a furniture designer in industry, a maker and later a teacher, before once again establishing his own workshop in the Lake District, from which he now works, creating pieces for exhibit in selected galleries and for individual clients and collectors.

Elemental and enigmatic, with the intense energy of a rising wave, something alive hums from the pieces below.

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“Like every other maker my choices of material and process are not arbitrary but conditional on careful thought and experience, subject to practical and value judgements. So too with stylistic preferences where my personal aesthetic is probably more immediately connected to local conditions and a long term bond with the natural landscape, particularly the history and characteristics of the Lakes area of Cumbria. Here, the objects of my surroundings; mountains, moors, estuaries and lakes have a pervading and affecting elemental presence, particularly when experienced in what some call inclement weather. Everywhere in the landscape there are indicators of life; in natural light, wind, water and woodlands, in the mellowing influence of time and weather, in the simple disciplined human interventions to contain and control and in the value in striking a balance between the natural and man-made.”

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“Salvaged painted wood is a waste product of urban renewal and unlike the natural unfinished wood varies a great deal in visual character. Collecting and responding to this material is a new situation every time and involves a more conscious image building process, making each coloured piece of furniture more unexpected and unrepeatable.”

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From the beginning, Edward made “small consciously modest crafted objects comprising a basic utility and somewhat rough hewn appearance”, using found woods.

“I was determined to adopt a light touch approach in terms of production (small, basic, ethical) and make modest things that communicated my thoughts, values and visual ideas, but were also very practical.”

His relationship with wood began much earlier than this, he remembers:

“I loved climbing into trees when I was young and with school friends built shelters every summer out of natural materials in the woods around my home in the Lake District.

“I progressed from whittling bows, arrows and fishing rods (out of Hazel and Yew) to making sledges, bogies and rafts out of reclaimed materials using my fathers hand tools.

“Without noticing I must have developed a real interest in wood, as well as some skills in designing and making things. Now I appreciate that it’s the cleanness, and the visual and tactile warmth of wood, coupled with its versatility as a practical and aesthetic medium that appeals to me.

“I love the smell of wood, its density, its bulk, its texture, and the variety of types and surfaces available. I do however like to think of it, and work it, as a non-precious material.”

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“In construction terms my objects have the same economy as country fences, gates and stiles (not self consciously detailed or elaborated in design or craft terms). I use locally available found materials; especially those that already have worn and naturally aged surfaces. I stick to basic furniture requirements (storage box, seating bench, table surface)”

“I have tried to break with certain practices in my field choosing not to use exotic, plundered and endangered woods and not to use complex high consumption production processes. The finishes created do not aim for the perfectly controlled appearance of machined materials and production but retain much of the rawness and weathering of the reclaimed material used.”

“It is the quality of what I can achieve rather than the quality of what I use that matters most to me.”

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“Interacting with the physical world has always been central to my life. The natural landscape and built environment inspire me equally but consideration of such things as Art, Sculpture, Architecture and Environmentalism have all played their part in forming my work.

One of my original motivations was to capture something of the qualities of traditional rural buildings that (very naturally) meet essential needs through building by hand with local materials.

The character of my work is now well established, new ideas are inspired by the materials I find or client needs and from sketches and scaled drawings I make the work entirely myself in a small garden workshop.”

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All finished pieces are marked (usually centrally on the underside of the bottom) with a 2 digit date stamp e.g. 93 and a separate stamp in the form of a leaf. Most pieces are in private homes and collections in the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand but examples are also in the possession of the British Council, Arts Council of Great Britain, Usher Gallery Lincoln, UK.

You can read more about Edward on his site here.

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Fabulous Folk from The Contemporary Craft Festival, Bovey Tracey

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I only had a few hours last Saturday to visit the Contemporary Craft Festival at Bovey Tracey, but what a fantastic few hours it was. The work and people that I met there exceeded my expectations; there was such originality, commitment and true skill on every corner.

Visiting last weekend really confirmed to me my love for work made by hand, and the magic invisibly imbued into something that has taken time and physical effort to create. A spoon that has taken five or more hours to carve from a single piece of wood, a pot formed from clay collected on the hillsides, caressed and moved into achingly beautiful shapes, a lampshade decorated with wrap after wrap of a single piece of thread, tucked so gently into the other side. These skills and actions have value and meaning and feeling, and they must be maintained and supported. This is so important.

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JULIA JOWETT

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Julia was one of the first people that I met on Saturday, in the “one year on” tent, showcasing artists and craftspeople who were one year into their new businesses.

Julia works dense hand embroidery into metal gauzes and figuratively manipulated wire lines, before combining them with drawing and screen printing onto fabric and paper. This combination of sculpture and drawn elements, sometimes also incorporating words and phrases, made for a really engaging series of work that I was really drawn into. Each one feels a little like a keepsake box, a collection of memories or stories.

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You can make contact with Julia on her blog, here.

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ADAM BUICK

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 I felt an instant connection to Adam’s work, as I wandered into his small space in the corner of the tent. Something wonderfully quiet, natural and peaceful sang out into the surrounding crowds.

Looking on his work, I felt a strong sense of the sea and the landscape, something very close to nature. I later learned that Adam lives and works by the coast in West Wales.

Once home, I was fascinated to read more about his work, and took a look at his website and blog. I spent a good while reading there, and found him to be not only an intriguing artist but also an engaging writer and thinker.

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Adam has been recently involved in a self directed project entitled “Earth to Earth” . He placed an unfired clay jar onto a coastal hill at Carn Treliwyd, Pembrokeshire, Wales, and recorded its gradual weathering away to the environment as a series of photographs, one taken every 33 seconds. On his blog he makes comparisons to his process of firing in the studio, to the effects of the weather on his work. As he says “I am still committing the jar to the elements, air and water instead of fire and there is still a transformation.”

The end result is a moving and dreamlike time lapse film, showing not only the gradual disintegration of the jar, but the changing wild landscape, sea, movement of animals, and the sky and stars. It spoke to me of many things, of resilience, of fragility, and the power of the natural world.

The film was shown at an outdoor event in the centre of Buenos Aires on the 17th of May. You can watch a small portion of the film here.

I really encourage you to read more about this project, it is so fascinating and uplifting, and to look more closely at Adam’s beautiful work on his site.

It made complete sense as to why his work has such a quality, why it holds something of that passionate connection to nature, even in that crowded, noisy space.

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JANE BLEASE

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A warm and Autumnal hued space welcomed me in to Jane’s beautifully arranged collection of handmade lampshades, framed pictures, bookmarks and jewellery.

I was really taken by the absolute precision and care it must take to wrap each single piece of thread round and through the wood burned holes that decorate each handcrafted piece that she works on. The shades give a beautifully warm light, and are totally unique.

Jane is based in her studio/shop at The Manchester Craft and Design Centre. You can also see more and buy her work from her website here.

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CLAIRE ARMITAGE

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Claire’s fantastic energy buzzed all about her space as I stepped in to admire her collection of handmade silk scarves. She was dressed beautifully in her own handmade dress from her own line. Once I looked more closely at the designs on each scarf, I was struck by their intricacy and individuality. Each piece of work is finished with delicately layered edgings and hand-embroidered details, and each one seems to tell some story, of the sea, the landscape and environment. They are truly original and stunningly beautiful – you really have to see them in real life to truly appreciate them.

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Claire designs and hand prints her scarves and dresses, plus undertakes work as a costume designer and illustrator from her birthplace in Cornwall. You can visit her site here.

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NIC WEBB

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Nic was the last person that I met as I made my way out from the crowds. His calm manner and friendliness drew me in to his space, filled with carefully arranged displays of hand carved, traditionally made spoons, ladles and bowls. I really enjoyed the feeling of slow moving time and focus that seemed to fall from the displays and his way of working, there was a quiet honour to each piece of work.

I love that each spoon, each bowl that he creates is slightly different, and is worked with the wood not against it, enhancing each grain and knot and forming it into something original and full of spirit and life.

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You can visit Nic’s site here.

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I hope that I have shared with you a little of the warmth and originality that I found at Bovey Tracey. If you are near at the next event I really encourage you to visit. You can read more about the festival at their website here.

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to let me into their space and take photographs.

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