Furniture with Soul II
May 31 – July 12 at Gallery NAGA
Organized in conjunction with David Savage’s book, Furniture with Soul, Gallery NAGA presents the second half of a two-part exhibition. The show’s 2012 installment featured the work of ten master furnituremakers including David Savage, Garry Knox Bennett, John Makepeace and Judy Kensley McKie. The latest chapter showcases eight new faces from the United States and the United Kingdom who are on the cutting edge of furniture design. The exhibition continues to explore the impressive dynamism of woodworking and will display a unique selection of studio furniture that reflects the extraordinary relationship between the makers and their craft.
“The craftspeople featured…have lived lives dedicated to the creation of objects that fill us with awe and wonder…their pursuit is excellence and the individuality that will make their work a landmark of our age,” writes David Savage. This show will include pieces by Marc Fish, Alun Heslop, Yuri Kobayashi, Daniel Lacey, Tom Loeser, Michael Puryear, Joseph Walsh and Waywood.
Marc Fish, from Newhaven, England is a multidementional artist whose skills include computerized furniture making, writing, teaching year-long seminars with students in his workshop, and commission based work. His piece Mollusque, integrates copper and glass with sycamore to create a uniqely shaped table that displays his background in metal fabrication and his exquisite attention to detail. Based in London, Alun Heslop’s primary focus is on the most difficult area of furniture making: seating. His structurally sound yet comfortable and stunning pieces are made within the tradition of European design. He relies on a combination of machines and more classic tools to efficiently create beautiful and unique pieces. Waywood, a company of five collaborative furniture makers led by Barnaby Scott, also utilizes both hand work skills and computer guided routing machines to create extraordinarily subtle and elegant pieces.
While each furnituremaker is unique, Japanese themes are a common thread between several of the artists in the show. Yuri Kobayashi has an interesting perspective on furniture making, drawing inspiration from her Japanese heritage. She describes her work as “furniture/sculptures,” and while it is rooted in the Japanese ethics and aesthetics she grew up with, she strives to create work that communicates universal human experience. Michael Puryear, silver award winner for the 2009 Smithsonian Craft Show, also uses Japanese elements in his work. The concept of shibui, “simple elegance,” combined with influences from Africa and other traditional societies are reflected in the curved elements of his visually appealing yet functional chairs and desks. Echoes of Japanese aesthetic can also be seen in the works of Joseph Walsh, a self taught furniture maker from rural Ireland’s County Cork. His free-form lamination techniques allow him to “push solid wood constructions into new expressive directions.”
Scottish artist Daniel Lacey draws influences not from his heritage but from the world around him. As a committed environmentalist with a zero-carbon footprint, water-powered workshop, Lacey works with only sustainably harvested timber to create his furniture. Finally, Savage has described Tom Loeser as “wonderfully mischievous.” Loeser takes seemingly conventional pieces of furniture and playfully reimagines them, for example, pieces of firewood arranged in patterns and rolled up in layers of felt.
Furniture with Soul, published in 2011 by Kodansha International, promotes the idea of understanding the soul, rather than simply the quality, of the artists and their work. Savage’s quest to find the “something special” in each artist is balanced with his desire to learn the creative process that each artist utilizes in their woodmaking. “Furniture with soul is more than furniture that is simply well made or that demonstrates fine workmanship. It embodies a profound form of communication that really has little to do with conscious thought. It slopes under the radar of consciousness with a special, almost physical resonance that can leave your hand trembling, make your spine tingle, or blow you off balance.”
Furniture with Soul II is on exhibition from May 31 through July 12 at Gallery NAGA. A reception for the artists and public will be held at the gallery on Friday, May 31 from 6-8pm.
Images of the work to be exhibited are posted on gallerynaga.com and are available on request.