When it comes to the world of woodturning, female woodturners are in the minority. The woodturning world, however, has been changing and evolving over the past few years, at a very exciting rate. With many artists exploring new techniques and ideas, more and more exciting artwork is being created, and much of this extraordinary, beautiful art work is being created by women.
Woodturning has never been so accessible as it is now, but sadly, not enough people know about it. The Worshipful Company of Turners are looking to change that, however, and use their voice to inform people about how creative, exciting and fulfilling working with timber and a lathe can be, with its seemingly endless possibilities.
The Register of Professional Turners (RPT) is privileged to have 11 female woodturners and the Register, in its 45-year history, has just appointed its first female Chair – Jay Heryet. This isn't the result of gesture politics, but a clear, determined, positive drive from the RPT and the Worshipful Company of Turners to welcome women into woodturning.
There will be a great range of female woodturners exhibiting at the Wizardry in Wood exhibition, which will take place from 13–16 October at Carpenters’ Hall, London.
“I am quite solitary in my making practice, so the feeling of loneliness created by the isolation of lockdown was unexpected and impacted on the mindset required for creativity. I was ‘rescued’ from this malaise by a commission for Lexus UK to make a piece inspired by the Lexus RX plug-in hybrid. I was one of five makers participating in this Takumi project. The process of design, development and making was documented on video and stills. This was a particularly challenging process due to lockdown and a very small studio space, and early in 2021, it was released on social media platforms as a short film.
With many of my usual routes to market closed or limited, this meant that more time could be devoted to developing original work, with the exploration of new techniques and processes. The results will be launched in January 2022 in Paris when, hopefully, we'll all once again begin to socialise and flourish,” Sally finishes.
- Sally was a Bursary winner in 2015 and also became one of the emerging makers in the Crafts Council Hothouse scheme in 2016. In 2020, she was one of five makers to be selected by Lexus UK to make a piece for their Takumi project.
- The tag line for Sally's brand is the 'Art of Wood' – distinctive, original and beautifully made.
- Sally is essentially a designer-maker of elegant wooden vessels and sculptures for bespoke luxury interiors. She uses native English timbers usually from trees which have been felled for land clearance or storm damage. Most pieces are lathe-turned green before being heavily carved and decorated. Many pieces incorporate precious gold, silver and platinum leaf.
For Joey, quality is of paramount importance and involves just two factors: the first is the concept and the second is the execution. The concept, which includes the material, message and story of the artwork, must work in a symbiotic relationship with well executed high craft skills and detail.
Each of Joey's creations start with stimulation, inspiration, imagination and the original thought. This then leads to research, working out the concept, and finally, the execution. She never creates a maquette as all of her energy, excitement and inspiration goes straight into the passion and sole of the finished pieces.
"Creating is my therapy, my escapism; I lose myself in the work," Joey says. "I feel excited and fulfilled seeing the piece come to life in my hands. I love exploring and illustrating stories through symbolic form and repeated motifs, breathing life into, and creating, a soul for each unique piece. My work is inspired by nature, life experiences and imagination drawn from my inner self.”
Nature and, more specifically, wood, is the driving force behind Joey’s sculptural practice. It informs her themes and guides her expressions. From memento mori through mimesis via a mischievous wit, her delicate wood forms and contemporary, mixed-media sculptures, are moulded by and seek to encapsulate nature. "It shapes me and, in turn, I shape it," she explains.
- Court Assistance Worshipful Company of Turners
- 2018 MA Fine Art, University of Lincoln
- 2016 - made Fellow of the Society Designer Craftsman
- 2015 QEST Award of excellence
- 2012 scholarship from QEST (Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust) to travel back to America to cast her wooden forms in glass. "This altered my life, taking my hobby into a full-time profession"
- 2005 – Worshipful Company of Turners bursary funded travel to America and study with the late Binh Pho
Joey's specialist skill is combining traditional skills of woodturning with innovate techniques of piercing, texturing, airbrushing and carving, so every piece tells a story and has its own soul. Her recent MA in Fine art has added a theoretical depth to her work, allowing Joey to investigate the emotional, autobiographical and symbiotic relationship humans have with trees. The MA offered Joey the opportunity to experiment with different media, thoughts and ideas, so creating new approaches to the concept, execution and curation of her work.
Nearly all of Joey's sculptural wood objects are created out of reclaimed sycamore. Using both her craft skills and the material to achieve overall aims and objectives, her work has strong links to the history of the place and the origin of material.
To see Joey's work and to find out more about her, visit www.joeyrichardson.com
Caryln’s number one priority is quality. She will remake a piece repeatedly until it is right for her; she never gets bored.
“I'm excited by linear structures. Although you'd find it impossible to find a pylon, railway tracks or cranes within my work, they have influenced and inspire me," she explains. "I begin in my head, then I take my head to my sketch book and empty it out onto the page. I draw around the idea: it may be a practical piece, or simply a shape, but just as important. The problems of how to make a piece are generally worked out bit by bit in my sleep, night after night, the sketch book sharing my solutions helping me to work it out – that’s one of the jobs of the sketch book. From there, my next step is to turn models, make maquettes and play with my ideas. Together with those and the sketch book, the light bulb is lit! I'm closer to cutting my first veneers and planks for the refined model, the final piece approaches - the verification!”
- 2004 – Tony Boase Tribute award
- 2003 – Worshipful Company of Turners Bursary Award
- 1989 – Wickes DIY Bursary award
- 1989 – Princes Youth Business Trust – Business startup grant
- 1989 – Princes Youth Business Trust – Test Marketing Grant
- 1984 – Tim Turner travelling Scholarship exhibition award
“I've been working with materials all of my life: woodwork and art were my favourite subjects at school. I went to a state-of-the-art comprehensive school with fantastic facilities. My two friends and I were the first girls to take woodwork as an O’level option. The teachers were great and everyone was treated equally. Girls and boys had the same opportunities.
From school, I went on to a two-year Art Foundation Course. It was a joyful time, and from there I completed a three-year BA Hons Course in three-dimensional art and design, wood, metal & plastics.
"When I left art school and desperately needed a job, I looked for the most convenient type of work for me, I applied for a vacancy as a cabinetmaker at a large furniture workshop. At 22-years-old, apart from two older women, I was the only ‘girl’, and was expected to do the same job as the ‘boys’, which I did with glee! They were great fun and held no barriers; I was one of them – it was a real hoot. We all worked really hard producing furniture, which went around the world adorning offices – e.g. dealers' desks for the bank of England, Canon Street, London; desks for the Ministry of Defence; bedroom furniture for university halls of residence; large-scale furniture for churches – for example, a pulpit. I learnt about ‘production’ and it was really interesting. As a workforce we spent our days, lunchtimes and some evenings, together. A few of the boys were members of a pool team, so when I thrashed them at the local pub one lunchtime, they encouraged me to join – to me, that shows how accepted I was as another ‘person’ who could equal them – in many ways!
"My next job was making high-end teak garden furniture. The company had started in 1920 and I was the very first female employed as a maker. They built me my own work bench, a bit lower than the other benches! Again, the guys were great; they took me onboard and simply expected the same skills and knowledge from me as anyone else. Again, it was fun, and when I left, they employed two young women. I was so pleased, as obviously I'd made an impact.
However, my experiences of being a female in a male-dominated world while being self employed were very different. I started my fesign-making business in 1989. I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to do this. I had amazing support from my family, the Princes Youth Business Trust, and some good customers to kick off my income. I picked up other customers quite quickly – in fact, to this very day, I still do the woodturning for one of my first customers. My clients had no doubt that I was capable of any job, but a minority of the public simply couldn’t believe that a small, young woman like me was capable of such fine work. I was asked such questions, such as: 'Who does the turning for you?’, ‘Do you think you can manage to make that?’, ‘Are you any good with chisels?’. Thankfully some attitudes have changed, but there is still a long way to go.”
To see Carlyn's work and to find out more about her, visit www.carlynlindsay.co.uk
“I discovered woodturning at university, back in the early 90s, where it was simply another technique that I could use to create the designs I'd come up with. We were very much encouraged not to study the work of other makers, but to come up with our own ideas and ways to make them. We also had to show all of our visual research and design development, and this approach has stayed with me throughout my career. Creating my own nature-inspired designs, finding innovative solutions to problems, learning new techniques and breaking the rules of tradition, has always been the most exciting part of the making process for me. Mixing materials to increase the possibilities for texture, palette and material qualities that wood offers on its own,allows me to further articulate the often overlooked intricacies of the incredible flora and fauna we share this beautiful world with.
"High quality of finish is also very important. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to become friends with American woodturner, Hayley Smith, and her great integrity, producing pieces to the highest of standards definitely rubbed off on me," says Louise.
- 2016 – First prize – Worshipful Company of Turners Open Themed Competition
- 2010 – £,4500 grant awarded by Arts Council of Wales for Coleoptera – an exploration of beetle-inspired boxes
- 2004 – $3000 grant awarded from FORM - Australia – to help develop the 'Genus Australis' project
- 2002 – £2,500 grant from the Worshipful Company of Turners for her 'Plankton' Project
- 2002 – Welsh bursary for 'Plankton' project with Sarah Parker-Eaton
- 2000 – Arts Council of Wales grant to attend ‘Breaking Barriers’ Conference, Canada
- 1999 – £2,000 Award from the National Eisteddfod of Wales, Arts and Crafts Exhibition
Louise has exhibited widely and her work appears in various private and public collections. She has also been part of collaborative projects, such as an international sculpture project ‘Nature and Nurture’, which took place at the Vidyarihi Niketan School, Bhaktupur, Nepal.
Jay explores the many techniques of woodturning, but she particularly enjoys working with wet wood as this affords spontaneity and working timber straight from the log provides endless joy and inspiration.
Hollow vessels form the basis for much of her work; she transforms them by composition, manipulation and uses these as a canvas for painting and carving.
The precise nature of hand thread-chasing is such a contrast; meticulous planning and timber selection is necessary for the success of each threaded piece. Whatever the item, form and attention to detail are paramount for her.
- 2018 – Commission for Her Majesty the Queen's 92nd birthday
- 2013 – Coronation Festival QEST Enterprises Exhibitor
- 2010 – International Turning Exchange Residency
- 2010 – QEST Scholarship
- 2003 – Tony Boase Tribute Award
- 2003 – winner of the Worshipful Company of Turners' Bursary Award
All 15 exhibitors appearing at Wizardry in Wood can be viewed here
. As the new Chair of the RPT, Jay won’t be exhibiting, but you can visit her on the RPT stand.
Wizardry in Wood will be held at Carpenters’ Hall, London, from 13–16 October 2021. The Turning Competitions will also be on show and visitors will have the opportunity to purchase these unique pieces. Tickets are available via Eventbrite