Just recently one of the world’s truly great furniture makers Tom Hucker was able to join us here at Rowden Workshops and spend a short time with our students. He was here on vacation I were lucky that he was able to do this. It was a wonderful experience and I wish I’d had a tape recorder. He talked about is work and how he became a furniture maker. he was going to go one stage to art college but felt particularly uncertain about the world that was so difficult to evaluate. and gave a wonderful example of hearing about a German conceptual artist whose art was to cut pieces off himself in front of the camera. Tom said “I really didnt want to get into that that kind of world”
Tom talked instead about the the inspiration that his grandmother a former concert pianist had given him and the understanding of how to do anything like that one needed to acquire skill. For skill is like the visual vocabulary, just the building blocks of language enabling one to say something in one’s chosen medium. Tom talked about the relationship between skill and one’s knowledge of the material one was working a skill that is never complete but always growing. He talked about the responsive relationship that one has as a furniture maker with timber. How one is constantly seeking to be on the balancing point between extending the potential of the material pushing it to its limits of structure and expression and doing nothing. Nothing that is except stepping aside and allowing, enabling, the material to just shine.
The dichotomy is one of control, or release of control. The dominating, manipulative nature of skill, how we can impose our egos upon a piece of wood. Or, we can simply free the image that is within the material. Like a sculptor seeing the object inside the stone her job quite literally is to remove the waste material, allowing the David who was there all the time to be seen. Without the block of marble there would be no David.