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‘Arts Weeks’ in England

May 18, 2011

This is a letter I received from a friend in the UK and thought I’d share it.

Hi Tom,
I’ll be fascinated to see how all your shop changes materialise in time, new bench and tools etc, good to hear.
On my own front I’ve been making a few visits in the Cotswold hills and villages to a selection of furniture makers, one particular being Waywood Furniture Creation.
I’ve been meaning to visit and meet up with Barnaby Scott for some time and ever since I heard that his company were producing some lovely work and also since Charlesworth mentioned them as excellent furniture designers when I met him at Ryecote Wood Furniture College over a year ago.
‘Arts Weeks’ in England, this basically means any artists or crafts people can open their doors to the public for a limited time to see their work and sometimes their actual workspace.
So off I went to Chaddlington in Oxfordshire and only about half an hour from my home to see if I could have a look around Barnaby’s shop. I arrived at a lovely group of buildings nestled at the outer edge of the village surrounded by typical rolling Cotswold fields woodlands and hills. I parked and walked up and into Waywood’s showroom which was flooded with light from one side of the stone building, this lit up a selection of finely made furniture in mainly native hardwoods, while a couple incorporated some exotic woods that were responsibly sourced. After a couple of minutes Barnaby came down from the office upstairs to meet me and have a run through each piece.
It was a real treat to get the low down on a few of the many techniques used in some of the more unusual pieces including some particularly unusual veneering methods. All useful to understand and not straight forward at all.
I was then invited to have a look around his very commercial shop, which was almost entirely kitted out with pretty big machinery including a massive planer thicknesser, this wasn’t to say that Barnaby doesn’t favour handtools when the moment comes, mainly for finishing but none the less beautifully executed.
I guess it was a kind of reality check on where the spirit of Arts & Crafts currently sits in the Cotswolds, Barnaby very much loves the work he produces and the whole point for him is that the furniture is still individually made by a very small team of often four people. The client and what they want from the crafstman is still very much on a one to one and therefore there isn’t the slightest hint that machinery has in any way compromised the woodcraft one bit, in fact it’s helped to keep it very much alive, yes there was perhaps less handtools used from beginning to end, but when they were used they were used lovingly and with deep knowledge and appreciation.
I took a couple of pics of Barnaby Scott at the side of one of the benches, all manner of kit was scattered around, but everything looked as I guess you’d expect from a very successful and very fine furniture maker’s busy commercial shop, innovation, design all intact and he was on the look out for another craftsman to join the small team in the near future….it was all very gratifying to see that man, machine and handtools has a very good balance here in the Wolds of England.
I’ve attached a pic of Barnaby and a link to his site.
A most enjoyable visit
P.S. ….Oh yes just a little pic too of the finished Oak plinth for Sue’s Horses head sculpture, which look like it’s already got a buyer on the opening day of her exhibition….i went for a very natural finish in the end, choosing to refrain from filling in the cracks and just oil and wax it, simple is sometimes best eh!
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