Between Creation and Decay
THE WOODWORKING OF ELEANOR LAKELIN
From her recent work it might seem that Eleanor Lakelin is a long established woodturner, however she came late to the field following a successful career in furniture design. Text by Corinne Julius.
VESSELS bleached white with strange whorls of holes and accretions evoke the image of decaying sheep’s skulls, others like multi-magnified sea urchins have strange nobbled surfaces as if the sea has worn away the spines to uneven lengths and rounded them, still others have the feel of woven African baskets; such are the striking works in wood by Eleanor Lakelin. Her pieces are highly accomplished and very contained; a world in wood that sits on a surface in its own space, yet invites the viewer to look inside. ‘I’ve always wanted hands to be drawn to pieces … I want pieces to be solid enough to touch as I think by handling something we can be absorbed and taken to a new level of experience. I think that’s why I’m so interested in texture…both the natural texture of burr and by carving and sandblasting. I think building up a layer by carving that you can look through to a another level where sandblasting reveals the passing of time can draw us in and be intriguing,’ explains Lakelin. She grew up on a mixed farm in an isolated rural community in Wales near Offa’s Dyke, where she made her own entertainment roaming the hillsides, collecting eggs, stones, skulls, bones and bits of wood that she displayed in an old abandoned chicken hutch. These natural items appear to have had an influence later in her life. ‘I curated and made up stories about them,’ recalls Lakelin. ‘When I came home one day and found Dad had sold the hutch and destroyed everything, I was devastated, but that is how it was.’ Her father, a skilled mechanic, had only daughters and he was happy when Eleanor showed an inclination for fixing things. ‘I was encouraged to repair things rather than make, but at school I wasn’t allowed to do woodwork. That was for boys. I had to do needlework, which I skipped and sat at the back of the pottery class, just watching.’
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