Seeing the Forest for the Trees at Masterpiece 2022

30 June - 6 July 2022
Overview

Seeing the Forest for the Trees is an evolving discussion, a dramatic visual argument for entwining the philosophy of environmental sustainability with high-end design and a tactile connection to the natural world. The curation includes fine heirloom objects and furniture crafted from organic materials and grown from practices which prioritise the material legacy and impact of objects. 

 

Our presentation interrogates assumptions about the value of materials; our artist-designer-makers transform the most humble-seeming of material into works of enduring luxury, problematising what we use, waste and venerate. Eleanor Lakelin only works with diseased or naturally-felled trees but she amplifies the ‘imperfections’ of wood to become significant and definitionally beautiful aspects of her objects. She encourages us to look at the complexities of nature with a new perspective. Her 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. Julian Watts is similarly drawn to disrupting standards of ‘bad or ugly‘ wood, he lovingly captures the burrs and decay and rot of foraged wood in bronze, elevating these ‘worthless’ and overlooked sections of a tree into precious votive sculptures. Wycliffe Stutchbury’s draped wall-hanging is a tapestry testament to the overlooked beauty of reclaimed wood. Each of his pieces is named to honour the location they were sourced from; he transforms unwanted, weathered and crumbling timber into sublime works of arresting and quiet elegance. 

 

Our artist-designer-makers create objects that are compelling, contemporary master-works of design and art as well as being bastions of sustainable and regenerative design. We will show new pieces of fine heirloom furniture from Marc Fish, John Makepeace OBE, and Nic Webb, A sprawling tree of shelves of Mokume-Gane bronze and ancient bog-oak from Marc Fish will take centre-stage. The work is steeped in heritage and is the most ambitious of this collection, exclusive to the gallery. The tree is constructed from 60 pieces of thin veneer of exquisite oak and 22 layers of bronze and lacquer, polished back to reveal a sumptuous dappled finish. On each branch of Marc’s shelf will be placed a golden delicate organic piece by Adi Toch reminiscent of a golden apple tree. John Makepeace OBE’s newest iteration of his pioneering scorched-Oak Embrace Collection is a distillation of his decades-long experience at the forefront of fine furniture design and sustainable forestry. Each object is a unique collaboration with the particular locally-felled British Oak the piece is crafted from, offering an intimate bond with the wood itself.

 

Seeing the Forest for the Trees confronts the viewer with the richness of material as itself, and offers a palpable connection to the natural world. Our artist-designer-makers create work that celebrates a partnership with organic material, each piece is a conversation and negotiation with wood or rice straw or clay. Our curation will be illuminated by a powerful sculptural lighting collection from Nic Webb. These scorched exterior solid-oak pendants are a new movement in his practice, where he integrates his artistic language of hand-carved bold minimalist forms, raw-wood and deeply blackened finishes into a bespoke light design. Nic’s practice is founded on that desire to let the tree speak, to allow an almost un-mediated connection to nature. The pendant wood is entirely sourced from one British Oak which Nic carved while green, he allows the natural cracking and warping of the wood to express the essential character of the tree.  

 

These commanding pieces represent an argument for sustainability through their action of longevity; they are first generation heirlooms that will be cared for and passed on - in an antithetical gesture to the predominant throw away culture of today - and capture the fructifying sensibility for a meaningful connection to and stewardship of the natural world. They bring the 'outside in' to our homes and encourage us to usurp old adages; let’s see the forest for the trees and experience richly the fortifying, essential beauty in nature.

 

Featured artists: 

Arko - straw, Japan

Katrien Doms - wood, Belgium

Marc Fish - wood + bronze, UK

Luke Fuller - clay, UK 

Eleanor Lakelin - wood, UK

Christopher Kurtz - wood, USA

John Makepeace OBE - wood, UK

Peter Marigold & Tadanori Tozawa - wood, UK + Japan

Gareth Neal - wood, UK

Jim Partridge & Liz Walmsley - wood, UK

Michael Peterson - wood, USA

Aneta Regel - clay, UK

Marcin Rusak - flowers + bio resin, Poland

Wycliffe Stutchbury - wood, UK

Adi Toch - metal, UK

Julian Watts - wood + bronze, USA

Nic Webb - wood, UK