Published: 13 November 2020
We have just received the most wonderful pieces from woodturner Richard Chapman. Below are images of couple of the pieces we have been given for our Christmas Exhibition which goes live online on the 19th November. Richard works with all kinds of wood and makes complicated and exquisite pieces to enhance and show off the detail of the different pieces making each one completely unique. All will have been chopped or carved, honed, hollowed, planed, burned, dyed or polished – and even dried in the microwave – to make works of art.
Wood can be a costly commodity, so Richard swaps the raw material with landowners for pieces of his art. In return for three trailer loads of burr oak from Sandringham, the Queen was presented with two exquisite bowls. A letter was later received confirming that the monarch was delighted with the exchange and Richard has since enjoyed several commissions from the Royal estate – making finials for gates and fences and retirement gifts for employees. Richard is also passionate about the correct management of trees and forests and supports organisations such as the Royal Forestry Society and Woodland Heritage, believing that for every tree that is felled at least two should be planted. For his work he specialises in using salvaged wood that is destined to be burnt.
Whilst Richard makes barrel sized platters and massive bowls from the sprawling and twisted forms of tree roots, he can also work as a miniaturist. Such exquisite pieces demand a careful working with the medium. When rare cracks emerge during the production process they are often incorporated into the design. And some of his most dramatic vases have been made from spalted beech – from trees attacked from a fungus as they die, which spreads black, orange or green lines through the wood like the contour lines on ordinance survey maps and merging faults into flawless vessels, and blending the ancient with the modern.
Richard gained a passion for carpentry during his childhood. When a schoolboy in Loddon, "I had the luck to be taught woodwork by a master cabinet maker," he says. In his own subsequent career as a PE teacher at Springwood High School in King's Lynn his gift remained a hobby. He decided to turn to full time woodturning in 1993 and since then he has carved himself a unique niche.