Michelangelo Foundation - Newsletter, June 2019 - View online

Eleanor Lakelin, Ph. © Ester Segarra

Of all the materials available to artisans, wood is perhaps the one we can identify with most. Like us, it grows, it needs food and water, it’s affected by weather, disease and trauma, and it dies at the end of its life. No wonder this beautiful natural material is an inspiration for so many craftsmen and women. Whether turned, carved or sandblasted, used to make furniture or artistic pieces of marquetry, wood always has a story to tell – a story expertly teased out by the master artisans who have made it their material of choice.

Ph. © Jeremy Johns


A burr is a natural deformity on a tree, caused by disease or injury, where the wood starts to grow in a different way. “It’s such an interesting, mad, organic, chaotic phenomenon,” says Eleanor Lakelin, a British artisan who creates turned vessels using horse chestnut burr. She enjoys the challenge of working with burred wood and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. “It’s a complete dialogue between the wood and me.”

Ph. © Ester Segarra

Ph. © Alf Harvey


Whether making a woodturned vessel, a piece of furniture or an outdoor installation, Irish woodworker Alan Meredith is always in tune with the wood, taking inspiration from its particular qualities. “When you are working with this material, it might challenge you with subtle things you can then react to. Or maybe we make a mistake and it turns out it looks better,” he says. By allowing these “happy accidents” to occur, his work showcases the natural attributes of wood.

Ph. © Roland Paschhoff

Ph. © Lionel Pagès


Based near Grenoble, France, former electrical engineer Pascal Oudet uses a very special technique of woodturning which he developed himself: sandblasting the turned wood so thin that it’s nearly transparent. In doing so he accentuates the grain of the wood, creating delicate, lace-like sculptures which pay homage to the natural beauty of the material.

Ph. © Pascal Oudet


Ph. by Fred Merz © Michelangelo Foundation


Based in Bulgaria, this wood carver creates interior design pieces and wood sculptures, and also passes on her knowledge to others as a teacher at the National School of Applied Arts in Sofia.

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Ph. © Alain Mailland


From his workshop in the south of France this woodturner takes inspiration from marine life to create turned sculptures using techniques including steam bending and sandblasting.

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Ph. by Nicolò Zanatta © Michelangelo Foundation


The contemporary style of this wood marquetry artisan based in the Swiss Jura is inspired by graffiti and the work of artists including American abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock.

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Ph. © École Boulle


Founded as a furniture making school, this Parisian institution trains young craftsmen and women in skills including woodturning, woodcarving, cabinetmaking and furniture design.

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Ph. by Lundi13 © Michelangelo Foundation


Portuguese woodcarver Filipa Rivera was still a student when she become a Young Ambassador at Homo Faber 2018. During the experience, she met Eleanor Lakelin (see above), and the pair have kept in touch, with Eleanor passing on advice to the younger woodworker. “It was very special to encounter her pieces,” says Filipa of Eleanor’s work. “I think it was the first time I could really relate to a sculpture made in wood. It was something from the core, because I really love textures and details and to look at her work is like wandering around landscapes.”

For Eleanor, it has been a “privilege” to support Filipa. “By sharing ideas and knowledge or explaining our own work to others, we gain an increased understanding of it ourselves. The relationship between a student and someone more established is undoubtedly of mutual benefit – I can provide thoughtful insights and encouragement, but being invited to be part of someone's creative journey is very rewarding in itself.”


Get up close to craftsmanship this month
with these forthcoming events

17-18 June

London, UK


Staged by the Crafts Council UK, this conference connects craftspeople and creative professionals and presents talks addressing the challenges and opportunities within contemporary craftsmanship.

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27 June-3 July

London, UK


This collectors’ fair presents the latest pieces for sale by more than 150 exhibitors, encompassing art, design, furniture and jewellery from antiquity to the present day.

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29 June-7 July

Lisbon, Portugal

FIA Lisboa (International Fair of Handicraft)

One of the largest craftsmanship trade fairs in Europe, FIA Lisboa is a platform for some 40 countries to promote their heritage and identity through arts and crafts.

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