That Which We Call A Chair

That which we call a chair … once grew in the wild wood.

This evocative precept serves as the theme for an exhibition of fine sculptural furniture from David Lightly and Ross Purves, taking place in the East Lothian village of Humbie this July.

David and Ross, two wood craftsmen with 45 years of experience between them, launched their collaborative venture ‘The Wood Neuk’ three years ago. Since then, they have been occupied with the prospect of showing their work in a major exhibition and have finally reached then position where they are able to do so. However, this is by no means is the full story.

chessTheir workshop nestles in the hills near the Borders town of Lauder, an idyllic location helping to inspire each unique piece which leaves their studio. It is also the home of the renowned late sculptor Tim Stead. David worked alongside Stead from 1989 until the artist’s untimely death in 2000. Subsequently, David met Ross in 2001 and the pair ran The Workshop of Tim Stead, under the guidance of Tim’s wife, Maggy, until setting up their new collaboration in 2013.

The Humbie Exhibition marks a watershed moment for the two men. It offers the opportunity to pay homage to the late Stead who has had such a profound influence on their development but also represents a moment of emancipation as they step out of his shadow and showcase some new designs.

David, who has spend three months making a spectacular Elm bed for the exhibition, remarks:

“As a furniture maker I seek perfection, most makers do. But the local materials I source are far from perfect and that is the point. When I look at a piece of wood I look for imperfection, I look for splits, holes and bark pockets that I can stitch, fill and repair. For me repairing a beautiful piece of wood, which would normally be discarded, is one of the greatest pleasures of my job and the prospect of sharing this experience at Humbie excites me greatly.” 

coffee tableSourcing local materials is a crucial part in the all round concept The Wood Neuk is striving to achieve. A local flood prevention scheme resulted in the felling of a giant oak tree which the workshop recently purchased. Records from the landowner show it was planted in 1812. This majestic product of nature essentially provides the two men with a blank canvass for years to come and Ross is keen to emphasis this point:

“It is nature itself which really arouses my desire to create. My vision for a finished piece only gets me so far, quite often it is the wood itself which dictates what the end product will actually be used for. In this respect the final piece of furniture is almost a conscious partnership between material and maker.”

The Wood Neuk’s Summer Exhibition at Humbie Village Hall  runs from the 2nd to the 10th of July, 11am – 6pm daily. Members of the public are encouraged to come along and meet David and Ross where a warm welcome awaits and the opportunity to view, touch and enjoy some spectacular hardwood furniture.

Humbie Village Hall, East Lothian, EH36 5PJ

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