"I peel back bark to reveal the organic chaos that can exist in the material itself and build up layers of texture through carving and sandblasting," explains Eleanor Lakelin, the British artist who creates vessels and sculptural objects from wood. "I use the vessel form and surface pattern to explore the layers and fissures between creation and decay and the erosion of nature." Her distinctive forms are apparently created in response to the passage of time etched into the fibres of the material.
Brought up in a remote Welsh village, Eleanor taught English in Europe and West Africa. A renovation project rekindled her longstanding passion for wood and she retrained as a cabinet maker. For the last twenty years, Eleanor has dedicated herself to her artistic practice and honed her skills through a series of masterclasses.
She explores her fascination with the natural properties of wood using a traditional woodworking lathe and centuries-old chisels and gouges alongside modern techniques and tools. Provenance is of particular importance and she only uses wood from trees felled in the British Isles and in particular Ash and Horse Chestnut Burr.
She adds: "I’m fascinated by wood as a living, breathing substance with its own history of growth and struggle centuries beyond our own. I’m particularly inspired by the organic mayhem and creative possibilities of burred wood. This proliferation of cells, formed over decades or even centuries as a reaction to stress or as a healing mechanism is a rare, mysterious and beautiful act of nature.
"The twisted configuration of the grain and the frequent bark inclusions and voids are challenging to work and the forms difficult to hollow but the removal of the bark reveals a secret, ethereal landscape, unseen by anyone before.
"Parts of the form are sculpted smooth and others left raw and untouched. Heavy, forceful hollowing gives way to sandblasting and fine and dextrous work cleaning up every fissure and contour. Pieces are bleached and scorched and tirelessly hand-worked to different lustres and an alabaster-like smoothness. They become objects that invite touch and objects that touch us, reminding us of our elemental and emotional bond with wood and our relationship to the Earth."