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David Mac Laren

David MacLaren began woodworking in 1973 at a Manhattan gallery called ‘Impressions in Wood’.

He moved to a larger space to design and make domestic furniture, kitchens and architectural fit-outs to client briefs while designing and making small items for craft fairs.

He first left the US to study literature at the ANU in 1963 and in1979 with a desire to create “a place for woodworkers to display their works, where diversity is encouraged and fine craftsmanship essential,” MacLaren approached eight makers to produce a piece from his American Black Walnut, opening his visionary Bungendore Wood Works Gallery with an exhibition of the maker’s works in 1983.

MacLaren, together with George Ingham and David Upfill-Brown had a profound affect on the development of woodworking in the region forming a philosophical and working relationship that gave rise to an authentic wood arts and crafts community in Canberra. He was guest lecturer at the Canberra School of Art in 1999.

A 1999 fire claimed his workshop, tools, timber and work in progress. Instead of rebuilding he spent time developing relationships with makers around the country, encouraging them by freely giving his designs and asking them to send him finely crafted pieces that he would display and sell in his new specific purpose Gallery that opened in 1994. Small products became the Gallery’s mainstay providing 10% of the Gallery’s sales.

In 2003 another workshop emerged, and a more limited and considered continuance of his journey began, giving rise to new designs and innovative, experimental prototype works while continuing to develop tourism based small products with wood turner Jim Homann.

MacLaren sees craft as a way of life that compliments the tourist ethos. His internationally renowned tourism award winning Gallery offers a genuine Australian arts and craft experience. David MacLaren’s story parallels the development of fine wood working in Australia over the past thirty years. 

Strut

The last derivative in this seating series, STRUT, was to be really simple, with the ebony central cylinder, and the little feet coming out.

Viewed side-on STRUT and JESTER become closer to each other, but both are further away from LEDA.

Dimensions: 
400w x 650d x 1400h mm

Leda

In 2008 I was invited to take part in an International Forum and Exhibition of Woodworking Culture in Sweden based on public seating. The JoINT Project provided an arena for the woodworking traditions of four continents and each artist was asked to pre-make one easily transportable piece. Mine was the LEDA Chair.

Dimensions: 
500w x 600d x 1850h mm

Jester

With JESTER I’m having a go at the sportsman, it was really ballsy, and the balls look like cricket balls. When you bowl a cricket ball you see the curve is up there like they are at the top of the chair. Maybe we should change the name to ‘Ballsy’.

This chair fulfilled what I really wanted to do in that sense. It would have been simple just to put the spheres directly in the middle at 90 degrees. I thought, “wouldn’t it be interesting to insert them at different points so you’re always looking at them.”

Dimensions: 
400w x 600d x 1650h mm

Gulf Tower

One of the most successful and popular items in the Gallery over the years has been the marble tower, played with by children and adults alike. And after years of not being available they are undergoing a revival.

I wanted to replicate them, particularly in the context of playfully mocking urban architectural pretensions, and how super skyscrapers end, up there, on top. I’m having a bit of a play with that. The Empire State and Chrysler buildings, they captured the obvious, the ‘point’. They are glorious buildings and that’s the virtue of being first on the block.

Dimensions: 
400w x 400d x 1200h mm

Empire

One of the most successful and popular items in the Gallery over the years has been the marble tower, played with by children and adults alike. And after years of not being available they are undergoing a revival.

I wanted to replicate them, particularly in the context of playfully mocking urban architectural pretensions, and how super skyscrapers end, up there, on top. I’m having a bit of a play with that. The Empire State and Chrysler buildings, they captured the obvious, the ‘point’. They are glorious buildings and that’s the virtue of being first on the block.

Dimensions: 
400w x 400d x 1200h mm

Table with Shoes

With a sense of true whimsy and play, Tables with Shoes provide a welcome break from the austerity of design today. Featuring inter-changeability and pitting fashion against form – if tables have legs, then why not complete with shoes?

They’re hall tables all are the same except the tops change, with a variety of tops and sockets in various timbers.

The legs all have threaded rod extending from the bottom. And we have a number of different shoes that we can twist on and off to create different looks.

Stack

Stack was very late in the line of recent works. It was one of those little margin sketches. It followed on from Still. Same dimension timber sections and both use Jarrah. No magnets this time.

I started out by conceiving two rectangles, they could be benches or low tables or stacked for shelves. And then the complications set in.

Dimensions: 
1000w x 300d x 300h mm (triangle component)

Asian High-rise

One of the most successful and popular items in the Gallery over the years has been the marble tower, played with by children and adults alike. And after years of not being available they are undergoing a revival.

I wanted to replicate them, particularly in the context of playfully mocking urban architectural pretensions, and how super skyscrapers end, up there, on top. I’m having a bit of a play with that. The Empire State and Chrysler buildings, they captured the obvious, the ‘point’. They are glorious buildings and that’s the virtue of being first on the block.

Dimensions: 
400w x 400d x 1650h mm

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