Friday, 20 May 2011

Interview with David Mawdsley

David Mawdsley is a designer and maker of contemporary furniture.  He runs his Skipton based company Mawdsley Williams with his wife Stephanie.  David will be exhibiting and demonstrating his work on the stage area of Victoria Hall and took part in our interview to tell us more about his stunning work.

Tell us about the work you do and the types of materials you use.
I design and make contemporary furniture that is comfortable to use and live with.  Natural forms, architectural shapes, unusual wood grain and decorative joint detailing influence my designs. 

European and North American hardwoods and where appropriate manufactured board and veneer are used to construct my furniture. I particularly enjoy using locally sourced timbers and pieces that have unusual grain patterning, this makes each piece of furniture unique and often gives my clients something to tell their friends. I recently made a coffee table using Burr Oak from Pickering and small amounts of Bog oak dated to approx 3500 BC from Norfolk. The Oak tree would have fallen into a marsh or bog and been preserved in a Norfolk field until fairly recently, Bog Oak is black in colour..

Most of the pieces of furniture I make are made to commission, each piece is designed and crafted with the client’s needs and wants in mind.  Through a process of thoughtful design, careful material selection and appropriate construction methods I create furniture that maintains its simplicity while creating a sense of intrigue.

My wife, Stephanie whose expertise is in fibre art often helps me with the designing, we are currently working together to produce decorative sculptural pieces and use Stephanie’s textile skill in ways other than for upholstery.  Inlaid work also forms part of our current focus.

Where do you produce your work? Does your working environment form part of the inspiration for your art?

I have my workshop in Gargrave near Skipton, I get inspiration from a range of areas, I like to incorporate curves into my work and natural form ,the human body as well as manufactured objects all help as starting points in the initial stages of developing a design.  I am fortunate to have my workshop in the heart of such beautiful countryside and will often go for a short walk along side the canal to think out a solution to a design problem 

Is your art your main job? How did you get started?

I have a passion for making furniture and was fortunate to study furniture design and making at Loughborough University and graduated in 1982. When I graduated  I worked as a cabinet maker for a couple of companies and taught Design Technology.

I moved to West Yorkshire in 1991 and taught at Stoney Lee Middle School, Cottingley and Oakbank School in Keighley. Six years ago my wife Stephanie and I established Mawdsley Williams where we design and make contemporary bespoke furniture to commission; we also have a range of semi bespoke pieces that clients can choose from. Russell our son has recently joined the business.

What work will you be exhibiting at the Saltaire Arts Trail?

I will be bringing a selection of my recent pieces of furniture including chairs small tables and cabinets. There will also be some smaller items such as Jewellery boxes, clocks and mirrors.
I will be bringing a small workbench and will be demonstrating a few techniques and will be pleased to discuss these techniques with visitors to the fair.

Do you work in any other mediums besides the work you will be exhibiting at the Arts Trail?
I think that it is important for designers to be able to communicate their ideas through drawing, I enjoy drawing, life drawing and I paint and use both oil and in watercolour, this is done mainly for my own personal enjoyment and I am not selling any of my drawings or paintings at the moment.

Where else can we see and buy your work?

I have recently completed a commission for chairs, benches and tables for use at the Mercer Art Gallery Harrogate.
I am taking part in the following events this year

  • North Yorkshire Open studios 2011 the dates are 10,11,12 – 18,19 June
  • I have a consol table exhibited in the Bradford Open Art Exhibition at Cartwright Hall Bradford
  • The Great Yorkshire Show my stand will be in the Made in Yorkshire marquee.
  • Art in the Pen 2011 Skipton 13,14 August 2011
  • Celebration of Craftsmanship and Design, Cheltenham 20 -29 August 2011
  • Autumn flower show Harrogate my stand will be in the Made in Yorkshire marquee.
  • I will be exhibiting as a member of the Northern Contemporary Furniture Makers this Autumn at Tennant’s, Leyburn.
  • Visitors are always welcome to call at my workshop in Gargrave but please phone first to make sure that I will be there ( 01756 748088) 

Tell us about your most exciting or memorable commission?

I have recently completed a commission for designing and making the furniture for the recently refurbished Mercer Art Gallery in Harrogate. I was asked to design and make four pairs of chairs of different designs, two pairs of benches of different designs, a coffee table and a large side table. I made each piece of furniture by hand using locally sourced Ash, Oak, Brown Oak and Elm. I was fortunate to find the Elm which is now difficult to find in wide enough boards to make chair seats. I choose different colours and textures of the timber to complement each other. One of the chairs that I was particularly pleased with was made in Ash with a Brown Oak seat and small amounts of brown oak detailing.  The furniture is now in the gallery and provided for the visitors to use.

What was it about the Saltaire Arts Trail that made you want to apply to exhibit?

There are several reasons for applying to exhibit at the Saltaire Arts Trail
  • Located in Saltaire, a unique and interesting village
  • The event has a good reputation and was recommended to me by other makers
  • A selection process requiring designers and makers only
  • I enjoyed my previous visits to Saltaire.

Have you participated or visited the Saltaire Arts Trail before? What is unique about it and how does it differ from other events

I have not exhibited at the Saltaire Arts trail before and I am looking forward to the event. I came as a visitor a few years ago as a visitor and enjoyed a great day out talking to other makers and having the opportunity to see Saltaire and the open house idea is great.  Exhibiting with other artist and craftspeople is important to me; I enjoy their creativity and enthusiasm. Those exhibiting at the Saltaire Arts Trail have designed and made their own pieces and have a depth of understanding of their art or craft, this is important.

Could you leave us with one more interesting fact about yourself or your work?

 I enjoy walking in the Yorkshire Dales and my chair designs are named after the Dales where I have walked.

Thanks so much to David for talking to us, please visit the Makers' Fair on any of the three days to see him at work and talk to him about his craft.

Mawdsley Williams
Unit 1b Asquith Industrial Estate
Eshton Road
North Yorkshire
BD23 3SE

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