Gareth Neal’s pieces are concerned with the dialogue between historical and contemporary design. He comments that he is, ‘fascinated by process, whether that be with traditional tools or the latest computer-controlled router. This, combined with an in-depth knowledge of historical techniques and aesthetics, gives [my] designs rich narratives and contextual reference points, while continually testing the limits of craft and design.’
The artist combines 3D computer drawing, CNC processes and 3D printing with the intricacy of professional craftsmanship to create his sculptural pieces. His practice also champions sustainable methods of making and engages in carefully considered material choices. His innovative approaches to making provide a critical framework for his ideas, as the designs develop into new and diverse territory.
Most recently, the artist has stepped away from his expert material of wood and explored another raw material, sand, to create a series of 3D printed vessels; exaggerated forms range in size from the miniature to the monumental and the lustrous quality of the material is emphasised by intricate surface ridges. The fluid yet solid substrate allows for endless configurations, giving Gareth the opportunity to materialise designs that are unattainable in wood.
In the final production stage of his vessels, Gareth excavates the piece from an encasing block of printed sand. The artist’s signature designs in wood can also be defined by this notion of ‘the reveal’; historical furniture shapes seem to emerge from beneath contemporary forms in pieces like the Hack Chair, Ancestral Forms and the George Chest. He notes that this aesthetic has its origins in being an archaeologist’s son; he spent his summers on his father’s digs and would watch in fascination as objects were unearthed from beneath a coat of dirt and debris.
Gareth graduated from Buckinghamshire University in 1996 with a BA Honours in Furniture Design and Craftsmanship. His work has received critical acclaim and has featured in numerous publications and exhibitions, both in the UK and internationally. Gareth has pieces in the public collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum, UK; Crafts Council, UK; and Manchester Metropolitan, UK. His work was exhibited in Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design at the Museum of Arts and Design, USA; Telling Tales and Power of Making at Victoria & Albert Museum, UK; and The State of Things at The Design Museum Holon, Israel.