Archive for October, 2009

The Edinburgh Cabinet,RBGE wych elm project

October 27, 2009

I have made a number of chests of drawers over the past three decades,  all characterized by the sculpting of their handles from the solid of the drawer-fronts. The layout of the drawer handles has taken various forms on the different chests (see the post entitled “Chester draws”  of a year ago) but the idea behind “The Edinburgh Cabinet” is that the carved form represents the iconic Edinburgh skyline seen from the viewpoint where the wych elm itself stood as a living tree in the Botanic Gardens.


Apart from the obvious candidates, from Arthur’s Seat, Salisbury Crags and Calton Hill on the left to Edinburgh Castle and its esplanade on the right, I have tried to capture the feel of the roofscapes of the Old Town, its spires and chimneys, (Auld Reekie), and of the tree canopies of Stockbridge (with St Stephen’s  Church) and the Botanics itself. ( It will be apparent that the representation is more about the impression than any literal depiction). Sadly, due to lack of space, (or motivation?), I have had to omit the magnificent vista that is the St James Centre.

It has become usual to speak of using the timber of a tree as a way to extend the working life of that tree –  in the best instances for decades, if not centuries. The Edinburgh Cabinet  takes a significant step beyond this to explicitly link the piece itself to the source of its material. It imagines the tree, the Botanics Wych Elm, looking out over its environment as it would have done in its maturity. Thence arises the notion of “The Self Unseeing” as an alternative title for the piece.


These are a couple of photos taken by Edinburgh Evening News photographer Ian Georgeson which might have been (but weren’t) used with the feature the paper ran Thursday Oct 22nd; many thanks to Ian for sending me these.

We got a kind mention on a blog from across the Atlantic

Many thanks for that.


Wych Elm Exhibition opens at Botanics

October 11, 2009

With the opening of the new John Hope Gateway building at the west (Inverleith Park) entrance to the RBGE, the Wych Elm exhibition is now up and running. Our involvement has been twofold.

Firstly, with the kids of Kaimes School, Sharon Kirby and myself have built an “Acheivement Tree” which is now a permanent installation outside the school library. Photos and description of this form part of the exhibition and it is featured in the beautiful 10 minute video on the whole project made by Circa Media

Secondly, a piece I am calling “The Edinburgh Cabinet” shown here on its first morning in the John Hope Gateway (Angus Ross’s “collector’s chair” is to the left  and the Chris Butler chest he made for Ian Rankin is immediately behind).


and, below, a shot of the 5-drawer front nearing completion in the workshop


The exhibition runs until 28th March 2010 9.30am-7.00pm(9.00am on Saturday & Sunday).

Edinburgh moves to Glasgow

October 2, 2009

To paraphrase a well known Glaswegian saying, “The only good thing to come out of Edinburgh is the current Scottish Furniture Makers exhibition which transfers from Greyfriars Kirk to Princes Square, Glasgow after this weekend” (not that snappy a paraphrase then?).

More specifically, the exhibition is at GREYFRIAR’S Saturday the 3rd from 10.00 til 6.00 and Sunday the 4th from 2.00pm til 5.00pm when it clsoes its doors for the last time.

It re-opens at PRINCES SQUARE on Tuesday 6th Oct and runs thru, every day until Sunday 18th Oct 10.00 til 6.00.

Since my “Edinburgh Cabinet” is now in the Wych Elm Exhibition at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, it has been replaced with (a blast from the past) the swinging cot, an early piece in cherry and utile which has been in use in the family for a couple of decades.

swinging cot