What I fancy making right now

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A week walking in the Yorkshire Dales and then a visit to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park with its new Sean Scully exhibition has left my senses thrilled and my thoughts questioning the ability of art to communicate even the vaguest inkling of past experience.

Poetry is not words

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Poetry is not an arrangement of words, but a quality of openness, a distillation of experience and a refinement of expression. So to paint a poem is an entirely reasonable aim.

The language of images

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  In the introduction to Kathleen Raine’s selected poems she says, nature poetry is not what we write about nature, but rather the language of images in which nature daily speaks to us of the timeless, age-old mystery in which we participate.


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There is this interplay between the idea and what happens with the paint.  If the paint dominates, there is mess.  If the idea dominates there is dryness. Somehow there needs to be a way to stand back from both of them and watch them dance.

The persistence of impressions

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If I can find a unifying theme for these last months’ travels it is stone.  Red stone outcrops carved to make rock houses on Kinver Edge and cut through by the canal which I followed. Cotswold stones from cool blue grey to sunset orange in the walls of Tewkesbury Abbey. Massive columns of golden stone in Greek temples, fine stone fragments in Roman mosaics, and freshly spewed black lava on the slopes of Mount Etna. And these earth colours and … Read More

a bowl of water and light

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I’ve just delivered a painting to a client who wanted to bring the essence of a landscape that she’d known since childhood into her home.  The bay between Tresaith and the Ynys Lochtyn peninsula is like a bowl of water and light, sea and sky almost indistinguishable, held by the outstretched arms of land. It is a place to rest and breathe.… Read More

Painting is like toddler talk

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I heard a toddler the other day copying his parents’ talking but making no sense.  Blah, blah, b’blah, blah, he said.  He couldn’t understand what he heard, but he copied the sounds because he just had to join in.  One day it will all fall into place, imperceptibly. He will understand, and his blah blah will make sense. Sometimes I feel that way about painting. I’m making marks and they look like marks that I’ve seen others make, but I … Read More

“create something as living as nature, so that it itself may continue to live.”

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The artist, Matthew Smith (1879-1959) studied under Henri Matisse in Paris. Matisse encouraged him to intensify his vision of the natural world. The result, he said, was not a conventional description of nature, but an attempt to….”create something as living as nature, so that it itself may continue to live.” I want to create surfaces that have the energy and life of natural surfaces that become as fascinating and infinitely explorable as the natural world. follow Grant’s art blog

With painting, you just never know

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I always turn to the writings of artist Sean Sculley when I want inspiration and insight.  Here, from his selected writings, is a reminder that with painting you never know how things will go.  So get into the studio, pick up a brush and make marks.

Why purple doesn’t exist

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The colour purple does not exist in the real world. Apparently it’s true. A rainbow of light from red to violet floods our surroundings, but there is no such thing as purple light. Purple only exists in our heads. I got fascinated by what I found in exploring this purple puzzle, so I thought I’d share it …

improvisation in earth tones

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After all those months of working with white for the land, sea and light collection, my palate/palette was well and truly cleansed.  So I’m beginning to open my eyes to colour…..

land, sea and light

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Land, sea and light is a collection of 17 white reliefs, hung as the doors of oak and beech cabinets, inspired by the cliffs and beaches of the St Davids Peninsula, Pembrokeshire.

the mist of familiarity

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In 1819 Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote, “the mist of familiarity obscures from us the wonder of our being.” Is the role of the artist to commit themselves to peering through the mist and to re-present the familiar in a way that rekindles wonder? follow Grant’s art blog  

cliff top to vacuum press in a day

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A few year ago I wrote a blog post asking whether it was possible to retain the energy of a sketch in a piece of furniture.  Today may have been a step towards that.

Banksy or Van Gogh – who to copy?

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Right now I’m struggling with the finish of a series of landscape cabinets and would love some fresh ideas.  The doors are laminated reliefs inspired by the coastal landscape. As a ‘medium’ it’s got huge potential to explore the things that excite me about this place, but I can’t get the right finish.  Anyone got any ideas?

coincidence – pierced forms

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Isn’t the web a feast of coincidence.  A ring carved from bamboo by Kevin Woolgar @kevinwoolgar, a photographer in Puerto Rico, and a ceramic sculpture by Matt Sherratt @sculpturalforms working in North Wales arrived via email and the Maker in Wales facebook page today.

hang a landscape on your wall

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I want to make a collection of cabinets that hang on the wall like beautiful landscape paintings, whose interiors take you inside the landscape, and that everyone can see because it will go on a tour of public galleries around Britain. Well, thanks to the Arts Council of Wales, that dream is getting significantly closer to reality.

“I want my furniture to look like that.”

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When I was first training as a furniture maker I saw a print on a friend’s wall.  It was a painting of a dark headland on the horizon of a grey-green sea.  I want my furniture to look like that – I thought.  Which seemed strange, because there was nothing furniture-like about the image..

while storms rage

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While winter storms drive huge waves against the Pembrokeshire coastline and we have to take diversions to avoid the beach boulders and debris tossed across the roads, a wave-inspired dining table finds an altogether more peaceful home in a beautiful St Davids appartment. 

300 years in the making

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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.

The lighhouse cabinet

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Late last year a client arrived to discuss a cabinet for his new Georgian appartment in Clifton, Bristol.  He was carefully carrying a large cardboard box.  When I asked what the cabinet was for he openned the box and removed one of a beautiful collection of old lighthouse lightbulbs – the lighthouse cabinet was born.

JCBs and day-flying bats

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 It’s been a week of arrivals and unexpected help.  Birds from Africa, bats from hibernation, carpenters from Tasmania, and machine tools from Milton Keynes.

Nature in Art exhibition

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delighted to have my work in the British Contemporary Crafts exhibition at the Nature in Art Gallery near Gloucester, UK,  13 Nov – 16 Dec.

rock pool collection pictures

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Here is the collection of sculptural lights and tables inspired by the tiny marine world inside a hole in a large boulder at Caer Bwdy Bay near St Davids in Pembrokeshire.

Land, sea and light video

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Here’s a video about  Land, Sea and Light  – this is the beginning of a project to create a collection of fine furniture inspired by a stretch of the most beautiful coastline on the St Davids peninsula in Pembrokeshire.

using burr veneer video

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How do you create a veneered table top? Here’s one of a series of “making of” videos now on the site.  A coffee table designed to sit between two comfy cream sofas in front of the fire in the drawing room of a Georgian manor house. 

Birdsong Tables

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A while ago, sitting on a bridge in my local nature reserve and listening to a particularly soulful blackbird,  I realized that birdsong could be a great source of inspiration for the visual design of my furniture.  Now I’m about to start work on the first of a series of “birdsong tables”.

Gloucestershire Guild of Craftsmen

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I heard today that I have been accepted for associate membership of the Gloucestershire Guild of Craftsmen.  It means that my work will be appearing in their rather splendid summer show in Painswick (30/7 – 21/8.. well worth a visit) and that I should get the chance to meet other high quality designer/makers from a whole range of contemporary crafts…. a nice way to start the week.

Boxes as Sorbet

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Boxes are a sorbet for the furniture maker – they refresh the palate between heavier and more complex pieces.  But they are also a reminder of the fundamental qualities of wood which make it a unique and living medium.

Goodbye, Table. I will remember your making

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It would be easy to think, looking at a calm and refined piece of furniture, that the experience of making it is equally calm and refined – a relaxed and measured series of steps that takes you from timber to table. Oh how wrong! What you see is the serene swimming swan, while under the surface…….

Clay, wood and beauty 3

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If you’ve been reading the recent posts you’ll know that I’ve been thinking about the relationship between woodworking and ceramics, both from the practical point of view – thinking about how they complement one another and how to combine them, and from the point of view of process – wondering what is the equivalent in wood of the chance events that happen in a kiln and give the pot its vitality.

clay, wood and beauty: 2

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Paul Bradley – the maker of the pot in the previous post  – pointed me at the work of Edmund de Waal.  It’s interesting what he is saying in this video about his Japanese influences and you can see clearly how he is now very much working with ceramics in context.  No wood in sight, just painted MDF, but I can see the potential.

clay, wood and beauty

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I think there’s a great affinity between ceramics and wood. I treated myself after a recent commission to this beautiful piece by local potter, Paul Bradley.  It’s very refined and yet has a natural coarseness to the surface and obviously a seed-like inspiration to the form; a combination of the natural and refined that I aspire to in my own work.

Furniture and birdsong

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With all the wonderful bird song beginning again now and Spring feeling as if it must burst out soon, I have been thinking about birdsong as an inspiration for furniture.  In my past life I worked a lot with birdsong – made lots of programmes about it from it’s biology to its beauty.  So to incorporate it in my furniture would have a lovely continuity.

Furniture as sketch?

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Can a piece of furniture be a sketch? Or more specifically, can it have the immediacy and energy of a sketch? That’s what’s been on my mind. Sometimes I get frustrated by the precision of “fine furniture”… it seems so accurate and so flat. Where’s the life in it? I want to shout at it. To shake it. to get some reaction… not just perfect precision. We makers go on about how we are working with a living material, and … Read More