‘I peel back bark to reveal the organic chaos that can exist in the material itself and build up layers of texture through carving and sandblasting. I use the vessel form and surface pattern to explore the layers and fissures between creation and decay and the erosion of nature.’ – Eleanor Lakelin
A connection to the past is profound in Eleanor Lakelin’s work; she is fascinated by wood as a living, breathing substance with its own history of growth and struggle, centuries beyond our own. Her sculptural objects made in Horse Chestnut are created using a traditional woodworking lathe and centuries-old chisels and gouges, alongside modern tools and carving techniques. Her vessels appear like archaeological objects pulled from the ground; classical forms are referenced and smooth surfaces, reminiscent of ossified matter, rhythmically yield to knotted sections of burr.
Engaging in sustainable practices, Eleanor works only with trees grown in Britain and felled due to decay. A deep knowledge and a passionate interest in the natural properties of wood result in forms that seem true to the spirit of the material and which encourage us to look at the complexities of nature with a new perspective. Material is transformed into objects that invite touch and reflection, reminding us of our emotional bond with wood and, in turn, our wider relationship to the elemental earth.
Eleanor’s work is exhibited internationally and is part of prestigious private and public collections, including the Victoria & Albert Museum, UK; the Museum of London, UK; and the Mint Museum of Craft and Design, USA. In 2020, she received a major commission from Reading Museum, supported by the CAS Rapid Response Fund and in partnership with Frieze London, to create a piece which memorialises Reading Gaol’s most famous inmate, Oscar Wilde. The artist is the recipient of notable awards and commendations, including a QEST Scholarship in 2018; winner of the Bespoke Category of the British Wood Awards in 2017; nomination for the Perrier-Jouët Arts Salon Prize in 2014; and The Cockpit Arts / Worshipful Company of Turners Award in 2011.