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Peter Chamberlain (A joint exhibition with the printer Richard Rowland)

by Derek Rothera May 18, 2016

Peter Chamberlain (A joint exhibition with the printer Richard Rowland)

Peter Chamberlain - Sculptural  Furniture

For the past 22 years Peter has been making furniture in the Forest of Dean. Before that he lived in London - coincidentally on Southgate Road, near his 2002 exhibition at the Millinery Works

Moving out of London enabled him to find space and time to work creatively, developing his ideas for individual free standing pieces. Since then he has worked mainly to commission and as a solo craftsman, responsible for every part of the process.

Working with traditional methods - mortice & tenon, dovetails & dowels - using deciduous hardwoods sourced from this country, including the occasional tree felled locally. Most is seasoned and kilned in Peter’s own yard, giving him familiarity with the material long before it is placed on the work-bench.

Nature is his main source of reference, but he has always loved the ‘grace, proportion and sophistication of Mackintosh and the robust dynamism and daring of Gaudì architecture’. Some of his drawer handles pay homage to the balconies of "La Pedrera" in Barcelona. Obviously other influences have been absorbed: Victor Horta, the Nancy School and the Arts & Crafts Movement.

Peter’s work uses organic forms - curves, serpentine lines and natural unplaned edges that ‘chase out a feeling of movement in furniture, which is usually static and square’. He prefers to see how far he can edge it forwards to create a sculptural validity for each piece while not compromising functionality. He likes each new piece to elbow out its own space, and challenge expectations.

The surfaces are finished with oil or wax. The colour is left natural. In time, this evolves, the pale tones of ash, maple and sycamore will turn to deep honey and oak enrich to caramel.

Pattern found in the grain of indigenous woods is an active element in the design, 'Fiddle-back' dash of maple and sycamore, and the 'lacewood' web of London plane are used for marked decorative effect . His surfaces might be worked to display an almost painterly plane that suggests refracted light, with a remarkable range of colour. Sometimes, wood from the Forest of Dean contains mineral deposits that accentuate the grain,producing welcome variations.

Above all, solid wood furniture matures over time. Seasoned but not dead, it continues almost like a breathing substance to respond to heat and light and changes of climate. For Peter this ‘evolution’, plus the patina of use, ‘enhance the aesthetic and practical joys of the work’.

Derek Rothera
Derek Rothera


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