Artist Colin Seabrook with his lathe in his studio.
‘Meet the Maker’ – Wood Turner Colin Seabrook
Our occasional blog series ‘Meet the Maker’ features artists and makers that Denmans Garden collaborates with in a variety of ways, providing an opportunity to learn more about their work and inspiration.
This month we speak to wood turner Colin Seabrook, who uses wood taken from trees at Denmans Garden to recycle for his creations and whose beautiful finished bowls are available in the Denmans Gift shop.
I started my work with trees as part of a Pharmacy Degree. A significant part of my studies revolved around research of the Yew Tree and its properties in the treatment of cancer. After a long career in Pharmacy I returned to a new phase of working with trees.
I work from a small workshop in London as well as one near Chichester. The working day varies according to what stage of the work is at. Sometimes it will be working on preparing the logs which is often heavy and requires judgement on how to cut and prepare the wood for the first stage of drying. Great care is taken at this stage to preserve the unique features of each species.
Other days are spent preparing the first rough bowl shapes ready for further drying and monitoring. The final days of the process are spent turning the rough bowls into the fine bowls to ensure each bowl retains its natural colour, grain and character.
My inspiration comes from the beauty of English Trees in their original habitat whether that is in private gardens or substantial tree collections. Sadly trees do come to an end but I feel that I can reveal the inner beauty of each tree and create a unique memory of a tree and its place in the landscape.
I work with private gardens and places of heritage where trees are essential to the specific environment. The work starts with the logs and careful identification of the species. The drying process can take anything from three months to two years before I am able to start to make rough bowls and then finally turn the finished bowls.
I don’t use any dyes or artificial colouring; the bowl is a true reflection of the inner beauty of the trees. All of my work is from tree conservation and rescue. Any waste is recycled.
The wood from every tree has its own beauty. Some trees reflect their life in the colour and shading of the wood. Spalted wood is particularly splendid and is the result of a tree fungus which creates wonderful contrasting lines, shapes and shading. Naturally spalted wood requires careful handling to preserve the beauty. Burrs create amazing swirls and features; these also need extra care to preserve the features.
The difference between species always informs my work. Whether its Holly or Oak, Elm or Cherry, Ash or Hornbeam, Tulip Tree or Catalpa, Mulberry or Fig; each one is given the chance to display its beauty in the finished bowl.
Knowing and experiencing the habitat of the wood is essential and inspires my work. A tree has been growing in its space for maybe a few hundred years. I consider how many winters, how many summers the tree has seen; what is the history of the place, who might have walked past this tree in its youth, what was the landscape like when this was just a sapling? Some trees are cared for by wonderful gardeners who treasure each specimen and I enjoy working with these tree guardians. Knowing and understanding the environment of the tree has the most significant impact on my work.
Each tree has its own beauty and challenges.
I have been a visitor to Denmans Garden over many years with my family. When we first found the garden we were amazed at such a place of beauty and peace. Understanding the history of the garden and the passion that has gone into its creation is remarkable. Getting to know the team at Denman’s Garden and working with Mike, Graham and Vanessa is a pleasure. Creating lasting memories of the garden for the visitors is a privilege.
I am currently working on commissions for exhibitions and craft fairs later in the year. When not working I switch off by being by the sea in West Sussex.
Copyright Colin Seabrook