An exhibition of sculptural works.
A TOOL OR A MAN?
“You can teach a man to draw a straight line, and to cut one; to strike a curved line, and to carve it… with admirable speed and perfect precision; and you find his work perfect of its kind: but if you ask him to think about any of those forms, to consider if he cannot find any better in his own head, he stops; his execution becomes hesitating; he thinks and ten to one he thinks wrong; ten to one he makes a mistake in the first touch he gives to his work as a thinking being. But you have made a man of him for all that. He was only a machine before, an animated tool.”
From The Stones of Venice, Vol. II, ch. Vi
Charlie Whinney and Beatrix Baker present a selection of sculptural works and objects for the home. Working from an ancient barn in Witherslack both artists use steam-bending as a way to create curved forms. The wood is locally sourced, often from the woodland behind the workshop, and used green. The desire to try new ideas and experiment with different techniques is shared by both Charlie and Beatrix.
In preparing for this show we reflected upon Ruskin’s ideas regarding craftsmanship and the nature of work. His ideas ring true and reflect our own attitude to making and working.
Ruskin emphasised the importance of risk taking, thinking and using one’s imagination. When as a maker one deviates from a technical process, there is a loss of control, one ventures into the unknown and mistakes are made. However it is in making mistakes that we learn and move forwards. Ruskin argued that true craftsmanship and enjoyment of work lie not simply in churning out objects like a machine but in the combination of thought and manual skill. The intervention of the imagination in the work and the ability to evaluate is vital for both the quality of the work and happiness of the worker. The desire to do things differently leads us at first to make mistakes but ultimately to make new discoveries.