Craft NI are delighted to welcome you to ‘Curved with intent’, an exhibition of contemporary design in wood. ‘Curved with intent’ is Craft NI’s first event of a varied 2022 exhibition programme and promises to raise interest in the beautiful medium of wood and admiration for the talented Northern Irish designer-makers who work with it.

Wood as a construction material and man have had a very long relationship - not surprising since it is so extraordinarily versatile. The ability to create curved forms in wood is an example of its extreme adaptability to different needs and types of objects and construction, and it perfectly illustrates the theme of the exhibition – gentle and purposeful mastery that transforms a simple organic material into beautiful and/or functional craft objects.

Wood can be shaped in many ways, and the work displayed in the exhibition will demonstrate both a variety of objects and methods, including carving, turning, laminating, steam bending and cutting from solid.

The participating designer-makers are David Cousley, Mark Hanvey, Ronan Lowery, Brian McKee and John Piekaar.

All David Cousley’s work is carved from solid wood - the smaller pieces using knives, and the larger, a progression of tools from chainsaw, axe, and draw knife to spokeshaves, gouges and chisels as the work becomes ever more refined and close to the intended form.

Mark Hanvey specializes in turning unseasoned wood. His pieces are turned to a fine wall thickness and then left to dry where the natural tensions in the timber pull and contort to realise the final form. His pith vessel piece retains and celebrates a part of the tree that is usually discarded but was vital to the growth of the tree.

Ronan Lowery’s work involves two kinds of laminating: the curved rail of the bench uses the lamination of thin strips of timber bent over a mould, and the curve of the hanging hall stand consists of a built up and shaped sub structure which is then finished with veneer applied to the curved undersides.

The primary constructional method which dominates Brian McKee’s work is the steam bending of timber. This is achieved by heating unseasoned or seasoned but re-wetted timber to 100 degrees Celsius and bending it over a specially designed mould. This is possible because the adhesive material (lignin) which holds the fibers together softens temporarily at this temperature, enough to allow some movement of the fibers relative to one another, enabling the wood to bend.

John Piekaar uses two techniques in order to achieve wood curvature in his main piece - cutting from solid wood and progressively refining the shape as required, and laminated bending, that is gluing together thin strips of timber and clamping them while bent over a mould.

Each participating designer-maker speaks through their work to the audience of their own particular relationship with the material: the shapes they produce are more or less practically and/or aesthetically purposed. They are very deliberately envisaged - they are curved with intent.

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