The Worshipful Company of Turners

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Wizardry in Wood

Louise Hibbert

‘All of my work begins with extensive visual research, sketching and a technical scaled drawing. Many of my pieces evolve from shapes with organic bisymmetry and the turning technique allows me to effectively create these forms. I find that using the lathe gives my work rhythm and balance, almost like a structural backbone within each piece. I then begin carving, texturing, applying airbrushed inks, resins or metals to create the intricate details. Inspiration for me has always been dominated by a fascination with the natural world, particularly marine life, microscopic creatures, insects, plants and fossils, which together offer a fantastic repertoire of imagery.

I have had a passion for the arts and crafts from a young child when I constantly painted, sketched and made things. As I grew older, although I also had a strong interest in biology, this creativity eventually led to a degree in 3D Design at Brighton University, UK in 1994, and a career as a professional designer / maker.

During my studies I worked in wood, metal, ceramics and plastics and it was at this time that I discovered that wood was a perfect medium for my designs. Although I am perhaps known for my use of colour and resin, wood remains my main material of choice and the lathe the best means of creating my forms. I chose to work in wood not because I was attracted to straight lines and joinery but rather because I could shape it into forms with flowing lines and crisp details. As a living material, wood has a warmth and tactile quality that resonates with my organic designs. It is important to me that people are able to have a sense of this when they interact with my pieces. My favourite timber is sycamore, a sustainable wood with a pale even grain and translucent quality that works well as a blank canvas for my designs.

My initial concepts derive from an exploration of form, texture, colour and symmetry. It is not just the beauty of its surface that attracts me to nature; it is the harmonious order of its parts, the science, the way it continuously finds solutions to problems, which I find both awe-inspiring and fascinating. Through my work I hope to make accessible the wonder of these natural organisms and allow a tactile appreciation of them to a wider audience.

At present my work comprises a range of practical items, including salt and pepper mills and more whimsical one-off pieces – handheld sculptures, boxes and vessels. I have been fortunate over the years of my career to have won awards, received funding for continued research, attended conferences and collaborative events worldwide and been featured in many books and publications.

Although I lived for some time in the USA, I currently live and work on the beautiful North Wales coast. Looking out across the Menai Straights to the Isle of Anglesey from a small wooden workshop in my garden, I continue to strive to push forwards my ideas and techniques with every new piece that I create.’ Louise Hibbert

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Louise Hibbert


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