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Site Latest News 'Latest News' Archive This page shows projects from February 2009 to November 2011. To see what I've been up to more recently, please go to my blog by clicking on this link. The information within is literally a matter of life and death and though we may not always need to use the knowledge, and hopefully we won’t, it’s a great education to have. It’s the knowledge of how to help someone that collapses, cuts themselves, gets hurt in an emergency situation or finds themselves in a medical emergency. We also offer activities in other exciting locations in the South and West of England and Wales.
Council chiefs claim they cannot afford to pay for the road closures, first aid and stewards that would be required for Mrs Blinman to take part. However, job done with no serious injury and thanks to Rik Lander for advising and helping us. A really nice group of people attended them and hopefully they enjoyed the sessions as much as I did. I have taken a three day long first aid course, so am now a qualified first aider at work in addition to holding a paediatric first aid certificate. I also found out that I have passed my PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector) course, so now have a teaching qualification too. Just today I've finishing carving an Opinel knife handle for a commission.
One side of the handle has blackberries and a spider on it, while the other has bramble flowers and a bee, following his designs. The harness isn't my design, by the way. As well as these, I have been carving a sign to go outside my workshop. No photos yet unfortunately, but I'll post them when it's up and finished. There were plans to run more weekday green woodworking and woodcarving sessions at Boiling Wells beginning in September, but unfortunately we couldn't get enough people to come to justify it. However, a spooncarving Sunday workshop is planned for November as well as a weekend-long stool making workshop in December.
I'll also be running noticeboard-making workshops at the site with local youths very soon, as well as making more noticeboards with local conservation volunteers in January. Next week there will be two evening classes in woodcarving with health service staff as part of their art club, which I'm looking forward to a lot. This sign was made for Lawrence Weston City Farm in Bristol and is situated at the entrance to a small area of woodland bordered by water-filled drainage channels called 'rhynes'.
Water voles have recently been spotted in the rhynes there, which is very exciting for the farm as they are very rare in Britain.
The boards are oak and the posts are sweet chestnut, which should last a while as it is durable outdoors.
The letters were carved and then painted in and are accompanied by carvings of a water vole and cuckoo pint. You can see more about it here A couple of weeks before finishing this, I spent four enjoyable days working at Lawrence Weston farm with a group of local young people.We carved four information posts which were installed in the wood. These were also made from sweet chestnut. There was more lettercutting work making three inscribed elm chopping boards for wedding presents. Elm is not only beautiful but also has an interlocking grain that resists splitting well, so is ideal for this purpose. Wonder whose hands they might be? Image copyright William Bolton I also currently have some work in 'Inspired', an exhibition curated by the very talented furniture designer Sue Darlison. Last week was largely spent helping to build a recording studio for the Greenpeace field at the Glastonbury festival at Pilton in Somerset.
The building was designed by Tom Redfern and is made from a roundwood larch frame which will have strawbale walls.
Cowshed recording studios (a London-based studios) will be recording artists such as Jah Wobble and Billy Bragg in there during the festival and then cutting a limited edition disc, proceeds from the sale of which will go to Greenpeace. Forty-eight year six pupils all participated in carving designs onto two sweet chestnut posts, over the course of two days. The posts will eventually be set into the school grounds. Yesterday the game for Thrupp Lake nature reserve, near Radley in Oxfordshire, was delivered to them. The place is very interesting, being disused gravel pits that were saved by local campaigns from being infilled with slurry from local power stations.
Whilst travelling there and back, it was great to see fields full of poppies, red kites flying and the famous 'White Horse of Uffington' hillside chalk figure, thought to be about 5,000 years old. This link will take you back to the 'Unusual Commissions' page. Thrupp Lake itself.
You can find out more about it here And finally, after getting back from Oxfordshire it was the preview for the Meta Anatomica show. The show looks fantastic and everyone has produced great work to show next to yet again! Talk was already starting about what the subject for the next Meta show could be, after three successful group shows so far.
It is from an imaginary bird, which would eat the mechanical insects that I have made previously (see here).

It has a tough beak with a fine point, to break up the bugs and remove indigestible mechanical parts. It also has a nozzle on the beak, which squirts a sticky mucus to disable any dangerous mechanical defenses that the bugs may have.
On one of the first really warm days of the year, I spent today running a woodcarving class with people from 'Shift Bristol', a group who are building a roundhouse at St Werburghs City Farm's Boiling Wells site, in Bristol. The sun was shining and everyone really enjoyed carving outside amid the blossom and buds coming out at the beginning of spring.
The carved oak boards will eventually be installed in the roundhouse to make a frieze, with carvings by as many of the people who worked on the roundhouse as possible. I carved a long-tailed tit, as they are one of my favourite birds and a group of them are often fluttering around the Boiling Wells site, twittering away to each other. It will hang like a pub sign, with the design routed out and painted on both sides of it. The larger dots are oak covers over the washers and nuts holding the 'eye bolts' in place. They are a great group to be working with and the noticeboards are looking great too. It's been nice getting back to doing some carving, after so much teaching and training recently (although they are great as well). I'm currently studying for a further education teaching qualification and also doing a first aid course, as well as teaching young people who are disengaged from the educational system and also teaching woodcarving and green woodworking on the 'Heritage crafts' course. The course is still running-we have people on it even in the wet and cold winter- which is fantastic! Most of my time at the moment is being taken up with teaching and going on relevant courses in first aid etc.
There is a job coming up in February working with Bristol city council's 'learning communities' team, making two carved noticeboards with local people to celebrate the history of St Anne's Park, an area of Bristol. In fact, it went so well that I'm looking into possibly starting more courses - perhaps during evenings or weekends, depending on sourcing a suitable venue.
There are more workshops coming up at Lawrence Weston City Farm and, hopefully, still the interesting bowl project in Birmingham to look forward to.
If any of you happen to be going (27th-30th August), it will be in the 'One Tree, Twelve Routes' exhibition in the Great Oak Hall.
Unfortunately, no pictures of it yet, until I can work out how to get them off my new camera. I have spent most of the last three days writing handouts for the carving and green woodworking course which is beginning in a month's time at the beautiful Boiling Wells site in St Werburghs, Bristol. It's been a lot of work but enjoyable- it's nice to have a particular reason to think carefully about aspects of what I do and why they are the way that they are. I hope that the students enjoy reading the handouts as much (and if you are in the area and interested in joining the course-do get in touch - there are still places!). I'm also discussing carving a bowl for someone in Birmingham, using a favourite tree from their garden which had to be felled. Projects like this are great, a chance to carve stories onto bowls again is always interesting and exciting. The person who has enquired about it also found me via this website by chance, which is even better- all that sweating over a hot keyboard writing this site hasn't been wasted!
Oh, and the workshops at Lawrence Weston City Farm went really well- a genuinely nice group of young people who did some very good work. A three-dimensional scan has been made of a carved wooden stool made by an Asante craftsman in the nineteenth century and different specialists are making comments about how they view the uses of the scanning technique. Using such detailed images could allow a carver to reproduce such objects as closely as possible to the original. These scans are also interesting because they can be used to produce three-dimensional reproductions by a process called rapid prototyping, where a computer takes such a scanned virtual model and uses it to carve an object from wood using computer-guided spinning blades, or sometimes to build a three-dimensional object layer-by-layer, using materials such as plastics or resins. Rapid prototyping has obvious use to a woodcarver in producing long pieces of repetitive design that will be painted or gilded and could be monotonous to make by hand, for example on picture frames. The questions raised by this technology for a woodcarver are perhaps the most interesting thing for me.
One difference may be the quality of the finish, as edged tools in experienced hands give a much more polished cut than the spinning blades used to produce machined designs. Another is the unique and subtle way that a carving done by hand can work around the hidden flaws and surprises in the wood or stone that a machine does not register in it's blind reproduction of the original design. This process of discovery is one of the most enjoyable (and sometimes frustrating!) things about making a carving.
But perhaps the most important to me when looking at this carved object is it's record of a moment in the past; of a person's skilled work, perhaps over a long period, in a time and place so different to the one that I live in. What did the carver look like?
Now, it's on to finishing three large wooden crash-helmet-wearing slug sculptures which will be benches at the Larmer Tree festival next week (pictures when I get the chance to download them!).
The 'Inspired' exhibition will be on the week afterwards at Ashton Court (see below) and then on to completing the sculpture for Westonbirt Festival of the Tree and hopefully a commission to make a wooden sign for a local ethical furniture supplier.
And planning a heritage crafts carving and green woodworking course that I will be teaching with a friend at the beautiful Boiling Wells site in Bristol this winter.
A very nice project - the wood was found by the client and his girlfriend on a beach in the Moray Firth, Scotland.
I was recommended to them by the Head Warden of the National Trust site that the oak bench was made for last summer. It's great that the warden liked it enough to recommend me for further work onsite - thanks Bill!
The next big projects are making a piece for the Festival of the Tree at Westonbirt Arboretum in August as well as some big wooden slugs for the Larmer Tree Festival in July.
Some of my work will also be on show in the prestigious 'Inspired' exhibition at Ashton Court in Bristol in July, which is being organised by the talented furniture maker Sue Darlison. There is also ongoing work at the Boiling Wells project in St Werburgh's, Bristol, which works with young people who aren't in education or employment, teaching them various woodworking skills. On returning home, I found that I have had two sculptures chosen for the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists Open exhibition at the RBSA, Brook St.
Apparently it is the oldest society of artists in Britain (one previous president of the society was the noted artist Edward Burne-Jones), so it feels like quite an honour to have been selected.
One of the pieces is 'Velocivenator satiei' and the other is the osteotome beetle.

There are no finished pictures of the latter online yet as I managed to finish it just in time to take it to Birmingham! Here is a work-in progress picture for you though: As soon as I return from the exhibition private view there is a meeting to discuss an inscription on an oak bench to go in the National Trust's Leigh Woods site, where I have already carved and constructed a bench last year.
I have contributed an EP cover for a friend's record which is to be released in February. The EP is called 'Moth in the Motor' by Rachael Dadd and is to be released on Broken Sound Music. My cover (shown below) is a collage, with the moth being made up of salvaged antique wood veneers including beech, sweet chestnut, bubinga and makore.
A favourite Robinia tree had to be felled so, rather than removing it altogether, they wanted to have it turned into a sculpture. It is now still a forked tree trunk left standing but has an owl and woodpecker carved into it and a spiral running up the trunk.
A tulip tree has been felled and a range of makers are to produce very differing items from it's timber, including jewellery, bowls, bespoke fine furniture etc. My piece will probably be along similar lines to the insects and crustacean sculptures which can be seen in the Gallery page, only much larger this time! Also, I am hopefully going to be carving an interpretation panel from oak for a local mediaeval tithe barn which is being restored in Nailsea.
Still early days on that one so far. Oh, and on top of all this, I'm working one day a week with lads who have been excluded from school, doing a creative woodwork group at the Boiling Wells site in St Werburghs, Bristol. The woodworkers cooperative which I'm a member and director of (The Forest of Avon Wood Products) had a stall there with members showing their work, so it seemed a good idea to pop in.
There are some images here of work on both of them: Crustacean in process of construction-the eyes are about 1cm (approx.
I got news yesterday that my work has been chosen for a project at the prestigious 'Festival of the Tree' at Westonbirt Arboretum next August. Am currently making a carved wooden hunting crustacean that is inspired by a French piano piece. The music is called 'Desiccated embryos' and was written by Erik Satie in the early 20th century. It is to go in 'Metamarine', the next show from the same group who put on 'Metainsecta' last year at the Centrespace Gallery, Bristol (see Projects and Exhibitions).
This new show is going to be at the Grant Bradley Gallery, Bedminster, Bristol from the 7th to the 31st October. We had a good time at the last one, got glowing reviews and about 700 people turned up, so it seemed a great idea to do it again! Next, to clean them up and then begin carving in the beautiful woods. Also this summer, I'll be hopefully demonstrating on the Forest of Avon stand at Glastonbury festival, the Festival of the Tree and the Big Green Gathering. Thank you Paul! (Image copyright and courtesy of Paul Deans) UENUKU AND THE MIST GIRL "As he walked along the narrow path between the trees, Uenuku stared at the column of mist standing over the lake.
He had often seen mist lying low over the water but never a column of it standing up like the trunk of a tall tree.
He could see that they were beautiful even through the veils of mist that wrapped around them like a cloud. Further out the air was clear, but nearer to the shore everything had turned to the silver in the clinging cloud. These two women were Hine-pukohu-rangi, the Girl of the Mist and her sister Hine-wai the Misty Rain Girl.
They had come down from the clouds to bathe in the clear water of the lake. As he looked at them Uenuku felt a strange sensation come over him. There is fire and warmth here, with the summer sun shinning through the leaves of the trees and in winter the glowing fire on the hearth.
One day he tied mats across the windows and pushed moss into the crevices between the planks.
Hine-wai had gone but the song of the birds was very loud and there were voices on the Marae. She stood there a moment and a gasp of amazement went up from the people, for the Mist Girl was so slender and beautiful that no one had ever seen anything so wonderful before. She did not look as though she belonged to the earth. Uenuku followed her out, smiling because everyone was envying him his wife. Her long hair covered her body. The exclamations of the people were silenced as she began to sing. It rose upwards, higher and higher, until it seemed to dissolve in the bright sunshine, which bathed the empty ridgepole in a glow of golden light. Uenuku was heart-broken. Night after night he waited for the Mist Girl to return, but she never came back. One day he left his home and set out on a long search for his wife. Eleven years ago, I saw a carving of his called 'Hinewai calling from the mist' in a gallery in a town in New Zealand called Akaroa.
It made a big impression on me and influenced many subsequent carvings but over the years I forgot the sculptors name. Just on the off chance, I emailed the Akaroa tourist office giving the tiny scraps of information that I remembered (the piece's title, where the gallery was and the rough date that I saw it).
Amazingly, Maryn Curry managed to find out for me not only Pauls name and website address but also the name of the gallery. This is a beautiful National Trust owned Iron Age hill fort in woodland overlooking the Avon Gorge in Bristol. It will reference the history of the area, the local celtic tribes and the donation of the hillfort to the National Trust by the Wills family in 1909.
Very exciting!   I've also been offered a commission to produce one-off woodblock stamps for local ceramicist Steve Carter.
Provisionally entitled 'Meta aquatica' it is still very much in the planning stages, but watch this space!

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