What drives me to create? (Part 2)

Sidewinder II sculptural coffee table

Sidewinder II sculptural coffee table

Part one of this blog looked at what it is about craftsmanship, materials and design that have drawn me into this line of work. In this second and final part I delve further into creative expression and personal development and how they define what I have chosen to pursue as a career.


Art and creative expression

Whilst the fields of Design and Art are different, the part where they align for me regards their aesthetics. The functionality of objects in the world of Design drives their form whilst in the world of Art this constraint has been removed and the object is purely about expression.

Quite simply I am looking to share the forms and themes that fascinate me with the intention that the feelings they create for me, resonate with the viewer. It is about a meeting of minds and souls without the need for words. I want to bring into existence something original that reflects a part of me; where I find inner peace, excitement or awe and there is a desire to get this out into the real world. When the hectic pace of modern life risks consuming us, I want the items that I create to remind of us the beauty in nature and to help us to slow down and be more present and at peace.

This can be pared down in its simplest form to clean lines which are unencumbered and transmit a sense of calm, similar to that you may find when observing a beautiful view or looking out to sea.  I bring the theme of flow to my work regularly and this is often characterised by gently undulating curves or surfaces. The energy of flowing forms seems more in sync with how I want the world around me to be. This resonates more for me than the drama of staccato movement, represented by sharp corners or abrupt changes in direction. In my mind the female form is an example of this, reflecting a more sensuous and gentle line than the more chiselled male form.

Onda sculptural floating shelf in Walnut 

Balance is another important aspect and explains why the S shaped curves keep appearing in my work. This is reflected in Onda but much more so in Sidewinder where it works on each layer and for the piece as a whole. The resulting sense of equilibrium should leave the viewer with a Zen like calm. Circular forms also appear regularly in my work as they are the epitome of uninterrupted flow and they transmit a sense of wholeness or completeness where one has no need for anything else.


I am also interested in the way a form can change either across a surface or the piece as a whole and how this creates a sense of gradual movement. This may be to mimic movement in the natural world; Beating Wings takes inspiration from the movement of a dragonfly’s wings whilst Aguaviva from the way a jellyfish propels itself in the water. The movement may be on more of a conceptual level like with Genie, where the narrative is about a complete transformation from a wisp of smoke into a fully formed shelf.  Sometimes the origin of the movement be taken straight out of its natural environment. Maelstrom is a clear example of this with its twisting vortex. For me, this spiralling movement conjures up the grace and elegance in a ballerina’s pirouette whilst it also taps into the idea of a balance of energy.


Vehicle for personal development

There is no question that learning new skills and completing projects is extremely rewarding. This applies in whatever field one works in, but by having a physical product at the end of the process, it makes the sense of learning more tangible. Whilst the development as a craftsperson is a part of this journey, as mentioned in part one of this blog, the other journey for me goes beyond the vocation. Understanding what the obstacles are to moving forward may require some introspection and with it often comes the realisation that one may need to make personal changes in order to achieve these goals.

When I started making in my mid 20’s I had the belief that it would always be a struggle as I had no art, design or craft ability, either learned at school, or passed on to me genetically. It was baggage I carried around for a few years but with each challenge that I overcame, the baggage became lighter and the realisation that these negative beliefs were slowing me down. I realised that the negativity had been a large part of who I was and as I started to see how it affected so many aspects of my life I learned to challenge my beliefs and not be so attached to them. From being a glass half empty kind of person, the process of slow improvement has taught me to distance myself from my thoughts and become a more glass half full sort of person. The recent challenge of learning to work with a completely new processes of mould making and casting has been full of doubts, failures, and frustrations. However I have been able to remind myself that these challenges existed 25 years ago when learning to work with wood and at the time they seemed unsurmountable. Resin casting is a process where there are many variants in play in achieving the right results. Ratios of catalyst to resin to bronze powder, workshop temperature and humidity, technique to applying the resin, timing when adding subsequent layers, demould time, and this is all before the challenge of repairing minor imperfections and polishing something to a bright finish. After the third or fourth failed cast the thought still pops into my head that I’m not cut out for this new skill. However the next day brings a new perspective and the resolve to try a slightly different approach. I now find it easier to live with this uncertainty until the solution is found and this is very much an example to myself of how I have changed.  My self-belief and confidence have really grown over the years and I attribute a lot of this to the way I have dealt with the challenges that my works presents.

Maelstrom in brushed bronze resin



Whilst my work is about creating a product, it is so much more than that to me. Creating new portfolio pieces is so invigorating, from the birth of an idea through to completion of a piece. It provides me with a skip in my step with the prospect of something new and beautiful that someone will treasure. Whilst my aim is to create original work, it’s not about trying to reinvent the wheel. Creativity is about combining different elements in a way that hasn’t been done before and my hope is that the viewer will both recognise the new slant in an idea and that it will connect for them in a way that is more than purely functional or decorative. My aim is that the artefacts I create will be passed from generation to generation and be treasured by many people over the years. Undoubtedly I would gain great satisfaction in my work even if no one else got to see it. However knowing that my work brings pleasure to other people fills me with great pride. I’m fortunate that I get to see this at exhibitions either in the comments that people pass or how they lovingly stroke the surface of a piece of furniture. My clients help to complete the circle for me by buying my work and therefore allowing me to keep my business moving forward not only on a financial level but also in terms of helping to maintain my motivation and confidence and therefore keep my passion alive.

My hope is that the artefacts I create are a contrast to the objects designed with obsolescence in mind as part of our throw away culture. The idea of mass production or in large batches seems soulless and therefore by taking this route my objective would cease to be about creating meaning for myself or my clients and more about paying my bills or making money for someone else. The handmade individual element to my work is a reminder that they have been created by a person. Whilst I sometimes turn to digital production as a part of the making process, I still find it really important that I have used my hands in a large part of the making process which gives me a better connection to the final piece. I don’t think that one’s work should define who we are as people, however I would feel lost without it and I am very grateful for my lightbulb moment back in my mid 20’s. My work has been a great companion for me for the last 25 years, giving me a sense of purpose. It has always provided me with new challenges, constantly moving the goalposts to keep me evolving as a designer, artist and craftsperson but also as a human being.