The Worshipful Company of Turners

Supporting the Craft, City and Charity for over four hundred years

Turning Against Torture: unique auction of Greenwich Royal Park artworks supporting torture survivors

A unique auction of beautiful artworks made of wood from the Greenwich Royal Park is set to raise funds for Freedom from Torture this November.

Local artist and Freedom from Torture supporter Michael Maisey came up with the idea for this unusual auction after discovering plans to cut down one of the Royal Park’s 300-year-old sweet chestnut trees. Park staff agreed to donate pieces from the felled tree, which Michael distributed to 15 of the UK’s most prominent and successful woodturners. They have created a collection of 40 unique wooden artworks, ranging from elegant bowls and vases to more abstract forms.

The completed artworks have been returned to Greenwich for an exhibition at the Greenwich Gallery, open from the 30th October to 7th November. The collection will then be auctioned at the Trafalgar Tavern on the evening of the 17th November, with all proceeds going to support Freedom from Torture’s vital work with survivors of torture.

The exhibition and auction are both open to the public: full details, a gallery of the works and details of how to bid on them are available at

In delivering the raw wood to the turners and collecting their finished artworks, Michael has travelled more than 3,500 miles across the UK, visiting workshops and studios from Yorkshire to Devon. He has been a supporter of Freedom from Torture for over 30 years, and Chair of the South East London Supporters’ Group since 2011.

He tells the story of how the exhibition and auction came about:

At the end of 2016, a member of the Royal Greenwich Park staff called to say that they had had to fell a 300-year-old sweet chestnut tree, and asked whether I would be interested in taking some of the wood.

As soon as I saw the beautiful pieces of wood, containing a number of unusual knots and burrs, I was sure we must do something special with them. I knew that many local people in Greenwich and others who love Greenwich Park would be keen to own something special made from a Greenwich Park tree, so creating artworks from these special pieces of wood make perfect sense.

It’s a testament to the charitable instincts of the 15 turners featured in this special and unique event that they all agreed immediately to be involved: I’m incredibly grateful to them for their support for the work of Freedom from Torture. Travelling the length and breadth of the country to deliver the raw wood and collect the completed works, meeting so many interesting, friendly and talented turners, has been a delight.

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