Over 5000 years ago an Oak tree fell in to peat bog land. 5000 odd years later Luke from Hope in the Woods has made the Oak stand tall again.
Woodlands is a celebration of one tree's life. From its falling, to its preservation in peat over many thousands of years, Luke has sculpted a range that does justice to this Oak tree's journey. Sourced from an old Estate run by a family who have championed English woodlands for centuries, this Oak was discovered on their land in the Cambridgeshire fens. A rare and unique find as there are only so many trees that have been fortunate enough to survive the onset of rotting through the protection of the peat bog land. The natural preservation of the timber has left the tree jet black from its bark through to its pith, a truly wonderful and very beautiful process.
Working with Luke was an absolute joy, we immediately felt a shared passion for Woodlands as places in themselves. That passion translated into a vision that gave this collaboration a feeling of intent to do justice to a place that we have all spent so much of our lives enjoying. All of us coming from artistic and design backgrounds meant it was inevitable that we would get carried away with the 'idea', especially us, so it was great that Luke was able to keep on track and more importantly realistic about what was achievable. We fell in love with this project so much at times we started to think 'why don't we make hundreds of these pieces which could then cover an entire space much the same as woodlands sprawling out across the land. We could spend a year working on this'. Fortunately we came to our senses as Bog Oak is pretty tough to work by hand.
Having approached Luke with the idea of a series of spoons that could stand tall, he got going with some ideas. His work is striking in it’s simple lines and long stems so we thought it would be an interesting challenge for Luke to think more organically. His connection to timber through his making but also having spent much of his childhood and adult life around woodlands is evident in the way he approaches his practice. The respect for the wood of each piece that he creates only enriches the experience of using his objects of use. In particular, Luke loved working with the Bog Oak because it leaves such a stunning natural finish with plenty of character left in the work. Often his spoons are highly finished, using wood that takes to sanding easily to create a smooth, almost polished look. The Bog Oak has a mind of its own, with odd nicks and indents due to its age, it was a new challenge to incorporate the characteristics of the timber into Woodlands.
This project confronted Luke to question the role of function in his practice. The story of Woodlands left an enticing route to following into the purely sculpted abstract form; the way the trees organically twist, turn and flow across each other. It was important for him to stay grounded and make sure the function of the spoon was paramount to its organic form. He wants his work to be used in a daily ritual and so it is designed to do so perfectly. Every piece in Woodlands has a function from a Cake Slice to a Coffee Scoop but it is credit to Luke’s vision that every piece also stands strong as a form that conjures something beyond just it’s purpose.
Woodlands is a journey to bring a dormant tree back to life.