Signatures - 25th Year Anniversary Exhibition

September 20 – November 19, 2008


Grant Vaughan, John Commachio, Robert Howard, Neil Erasmus, Tony Kenway, Gray Hawk, Will Matthysen, Dave Street, Frank Wiesner, David Mac Laren, David Upfill-Brown.

Celebrating 25 years of fine woodwork with eleven of this country's finest woodworkers.

A maker’s mark is a peculiar sign. The Greek maker’s mark appeared especially when potters were able to paint elaborate scenes; they then began to sign their wares, sometimes with the name of the place in which they lived, sometimes with their name. Such a signature could add economic value. Marks left by the Roman slave builder would attest only to his presence. In some Roman buildings in provincial Gaul, the impressed marks – rarely a name, more often a symbol identifying the place where the maker came from, or the tribe to which he belonged – are as dense in the brickwork as are the mason’s marks in the Taj Mahal, where the Mogul stamps create a huge decorative surface. Many of the adaptive irregularities in Roman brickwork modulated into expressive decoration, tiny flourishes like a figured tile mortared in to cover over an imperfect joint behind the surface. These also can be considered a maker’s mark – the signature.

“The story of Bungendore Wood Works Gallery parallels the development of fine woodworking in Australia over the past 25 years. Where the gallery is at today is where the standard and level of Australian woodworking is also. The Signatures exhibition brings together eleven fine woodworkers, most of whom have been involved with the Gallery throughout its existence. Their work is exceptional and significant, and defines in no small way the intent behind the title, to present work worthy of the makers “signature.”

David Mac Laren – Artistic Director

John Comacchio

Semi Acoustic Electric Guitar, blackwood, lancewood, mother of pearl, ivory, 36w x 5d x 100h cm NFS

John Comacchio’s ‘hands-on’ approach to his craft has always been a need rather than a choice. Rather than working with a fixed intellectually based approach he strives to put as much ‘heart’ into his work and passionately believes this ingredient is as important to his furniture as is function. John’s work is a personal statement and he goes to great pains to finish each piece evenly, with unmistakable finesse – above and below, top and bottom, inside and outside. His furniture possesses an almost ethereal glow and magnetism rare amongst objects, yet his approach remains as pragmatic and solid as wood itself.

Neil Erasmus

SEPT II, WA blackbutt, curly jarrah, acrylic, 120w x 40d x 90h $7500

Originally from South Africa, Neil’s design philosophy is divided evenly between conventional and contemporary styles, preferring the special challenges offered by the latter. His original contemporary designs are somewhat inspired by American Shaker, Traditional Japanese and the Arts and Crafts Movement styles, where small detail and joints are exposed and highlighted with contrasting intarsia and inlays. Working mainly in solid hardwoods he occasionally hand-cuts special highly figured veneers for a special visual effect. Central to his philosophy is a disciplined practise of woodworking skills using traditional techniques, and an unwavering commitment to maintaining a pleasing balance between form and function.

Gray Hawk

Winser Suite, redgum, suede, table 194w x 194d x 74h cm, $14,850, chairs 72w x 94h x 60d cm $4950 ea. B-Spoke Table and SCY Chairs, blackwood, suede, table 177c x 72h cm $13,200. chairs 72w x 94h x 60d cm $4950

Gray Hawk is one of Australia’s leading creators of contemporary residential and corporate furniture. working with the finest Australian timbers and exotic materials to bring his client’s environment to life. Based in Adelaide he has built his highly successful design business over the last 30 years or more. Hawk will not compromise on excellence drawing on years of experience in high quality construction, hand laid veneers, and crafting intricate inlays and edge details guarantees satisfaction in the finished product. His most recent major commission was to design and fabricate the ceremonial courtrooms for the new Federal Law Courts in Victoria Square, Adelaide.

Robert Howard

Carved Bowl, Australian red cedar, 270h x 300diam cm, $15,000. Rocking Chair, blackwood 70w x 110d x 105h, $14,700

Robert’s pure, elegant forms are painstakingly hand-carved, predominantly from the native timbers of NSW. This slow incremental process, involving as it does much hard physical labour and exhausting mental effort results in forms so simple that they belie their origins. An evolution led from journeyman cabinetmaker to sculptural artist working with the wooden bowl form and the connecting link was that most sculptural form of furniture, the chair, in which he also specialises. Since seriously exhibiting his work his bowl forms have been purchased by private collectors in Australia, Japan, Korea and the United States.

Tony Kenway

Rocker - Quilted Queensland maple, 100d x 60w x 90h, $14,250. 'Fema' Dining Suite, Northern silky oak, table 206l x 98w x 74h cm, carver chairs, 56w x 50d x 90h cm, chair 48w x 50d x 90h cm, Suite with 2 carvers and 6 chairs $62,705. Suite with 8 chairs $57,425

As a prominent Australian designer, Kenway has developed a unique range of furniture, drawing inspiration from simple and elegant forms found in the marine and coastal environment where he lives. Tony’s knowledge and appreciation of Australia’s rare timbers have enabled him to create exquisite furniture of the highest calibre using solid timbers, carefully selected for its lasting beauty, strength & flexibility. Designs have evolved from years of careful consideration to function, form, comfort & proportion. This, together with a traditional background in cabinet making and boat building, has led to international recognition being twice awarded best chair in show in Philadelphia, USA.

David Mac Laren

Cloud Five - Long Table, huon pine, Star Fire glass, 215l x 42w x 88h, $7000. Dining Table, jarrah, stainless steel magnets 210l x 100w x 71h, $10,000

David Mac Laren traded engineering at Yale University in 1963 for arts at the ANU and was willing prey to the woodworking love affair on returning to the US. Joining a co-operative of woodworkers in Manhattan he was introduced to derivative renditions of the natural edge furniture of George Nakashima and the stack laminated sculptural furniture of Wendell Castle. Re-locating to Australia he established Bungendore Wood Works Gallery in 1983. He participated in woodcraft exhibitions, served as guest lecturer and artist-in-residence at the ANU Wood Workshop and took part in the beginnings of an authentic arts and crafts community in the region.

Will Matthysen

Clock #0416 and #0415, jarrah, sycamore, blackheart sassafras, redgum, phenolic resin, steel, glass, 120h x 40w x 21d, $10725 ea

Since setting up his workshop in 1989 in Warrandyte, Victoria Will Matthysen has focused on producing a range of clock designs, from wood but also including materials such as brass, steel, high density fibreboard and glass. Each clock is hand built and unique, and integrates the mechanism and the cabinet into unified contemporary designs constantly evolving with each generation somehow leaving its genetic imprint on the next. The clocks often refer to architectural forms and shapes. and can be arranged into three types: freeform sculptural pieces; long-case clocks in wall mounted cabinets; and mantel clocks in free standing cabinets.

David Street

Tanjun Hall Table, jarrah, ebonised jarrah, 120w x 40w x 83h cm $1490. Tanjun Hall Table, silver wattle, ebonised jarrah, 120w x 40w x 83h cm $1490. Looking Glass Chairs, jarrah or blackwood, 40w x 50d x 110h cm $1410 ea

David Street took up woodworking and furniture making professionally in 1984 after meeting Neil Erasmus. They moved to Perth and their furniture making partnership. produced a range of traditional and modem jarrah furniture, as well as commission pieces. David’s major commissions include the Queen’s bedroom in Government House and the casework for the restored organs for St. Patrick’s and St. John’s churches in Fremantle. With wife Vivien they established Ironwood Studios useing recycled Jarrah from Perth buildingfs to make a range of simple, elegant and affordable furniture including dining, hall, coffee and bedside tables and designs for attractive hand crafted chairs.

David Upfill-Brown

Obverse Box, Ripple hard rock maple, bird's eye hard rock maple veneer, Honduras mahogany, 36w x 30d x 8h cm

David Upfill-Brown graduated from Parnham College, John Makepeace School for craftsmen in wood in England. He moved to Canberra where he established a reputation as a designer and maker of fine furniture, working on commissions for domestic and architectural clients. The arrival of George Ingham to head up the new Canberra School of Art Wood Workshop coincided with David establishing his workshop. With has an equally strong background in teaching, having taught with George Ingham, he served as Academic Director and Principal of the Australian School of Fine Furniture for four years before moving to Maine, USA to become the Lead Instructor at the Centre for Furniture Craftsmanship Woodworking School.

Grant Vaughan’s

Split Form #6, Australian red cedar, 18d x 48w x 48h cm $6930

Grant Vaughan’s formative years were spent in country towns on the Western Slopes of NSW where he developed a strong relationship with the land. His response to the natural environment would become the dominant influence in his work. He studied engineering and architecture and settled in the coastal hinterland of Northern NSW establishing his workshop at Rock Valley where he still resides and works. Grant has exhibited throughout Australia and gained national recognition. Since the late nineties his exquisite sculptural forms have been regularly shown in the United States. He is represented in many private and public collections internationally and in Australia.

Frank Wiesner

Cabinet, silver ash, Qld black walnut, cedar, cedar of Lebanon, calf leather, gold tooled, 80w x 62w x 155h cm, $11,220

Frank Wiesner first worked in wood as an apprentice with German Master Schirrmacher in war-torn Berlin forming a strong bond with his craft and materials. Adapting the demanding discipline of the German Master, he strove for excellence working long hours in his workshop. Wood getting plays a substantial role in his life as a cabinetmaker with weekends spent collecting and operating a small sawmill. Frank has spent the last ten years perfecting the art of cutting wooden threads and making presses of various types for the hand bookbinding trade He now makes tools for professional and hobby bookmakers in Australia and overseas.

Monday 24 November 2008