‘My compositions made from fallen and forgotten timber are studies in the narrative beauty of wood. They are made to reveal timbers’ response to its environment over time, its un-fashioned beauty, durability, and vulnerability. The origin of the material I use is central to my work.’ – Wycliffe Stutchbury
The ancient British landscape and its ever-evolving story is an essential part of Wycliffe’s creative journey. His ambitious wall panels and standing screens are inspired by the countryside he has experienced and lived in over his lifetime; from the Fenlands of East Anglia to the South Downs, where the artist spent his earliest days. This childhood relationship to woodland means he has an intrinsically close bond to his material: holly bush, oak and bogwood express his emotional connection to his subject while acting as an index of place itself. For Wycliffe, the finished piece is always an exploration of landscape: field, furrow and fall line are all embedded in the undulating scenery his work recalls.
His making process is slow and meditative; delicately hewn tiles of wood are placed by hand to create abstract compositions that are at once emotive, intuitive and conceptual. Patterns emerge in linear forms and subtle tonal changes susurrate across the picture's surface - reminding us of the wood’s creation and guiding us back to place. The final mass of shimmering wood shingles suggests a tension between the unpredictability of the natural world and the artist’s desire to impose new structures, while simultaneously retaining the life of the tree and its unique textural imperfections. Inconsistencies and anomalies are augmented, allowing the material to express its story in dialogue with the artist’s practice.
Wycliffe studied at the London College of Furniture and subsequently worked for 25 years as a furniture maker. In 2003, he graduated from the University of Brighton with a BA in 3D Craft and co-founded the Blue Monkey Studio, a collective of Eastbourne based artists, in the same year. The artist has exhibited extensively in the UK and the US and has significant works in international private collections. He has received several notable awards, including from the Crafts Council UK and the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers UK. In 2018, Wycliffe was shortlisted for the Loewe Craft Prize.