Last Saturday saw a significant celebration – the unveiling of the first piece completed at the Pembrokeshire workshop. It had only taken 300 years to make.
As a wild gale blew outside, the inside (swept and tidied for the occasion) was a haven of calm and clinking glasses as a hardy band of St Davids folk came to drink a toast to the Porthmelgan sideboard.
It was a chance to think back over the 300 or so years that the piece took to make… although I was only involved with the last three months. So, with a bit of poetic license, a wall covered with lining paper and the illustrative skills of my lovely partner, Deb, I set about telling a story…
Protected by the brambles from browsing deer, the acorn grew into a sapling in the shade of an old oak and waited. A decade or so later, a gale like the one that raged outside the workshop finaly did for the old tree, and it fell. Now, with sunlight to feed it the sapling could grow…and grow.
For the next 300 or so years – as Chippendale gave way to Ikea, Turner made way for Tracey Emin, and steam trains for space shuttles – leaves, acorns and branches fell, while birds, bats and insects made their homes in our tree. Somehow; some trick of the soil chemistry; this particular oak develops the most extraordinarily rich colouring and wild figurings in its wood. But no-one knows that until one day in the early 21st Century, the tree is felled, sawn and dried and finds its way to a timber yard in the English Midlands.
That’s where I come in. Portmelgan (which took some 500 Million years to create) had already done its inspirational magic, and a couple of imaginative clients with a love of geology and wood had seen the potential of a watercolour sketch on this website. Three months later, the dust sheet comes off – a tense moment for the furniture maker, but all was well and all were happy…. and the 300 years had been well spent.
So here’s to the oak and the rocks and the mystery of how life turns out.
See Porthmelgan unveiled in the gallery