In 2016 I renovated a small soggy ruined outbuilding at the bottom of my garden.
Originally just to be a place to tinker with wood but the project took on a life of its own when it featured on the 'Shed of the Year' website as one of the contenders for the 2017 title.
Having a small garden the restriction of only a 42 square feet building was looked upon as more of a challenge than a problem.
With careful design and space saving concepts borrowed from the tiny house movement, this petite building is now a fully fitted workshop producing individual works of art for sale from wood and a host of other materials.
Australian born artist Stephen has lived and worked in the UK for over fifty years and now considers Leyland in Lancashire his home boy turf.
Stephen predominantly works with all three dimensions and is not loyal to any one medium preferring to use whatever suits his conceptual study be it wood, plastic, paper metal or acrylics.
Drawing upon the natural forms from nature and geometric industrial structures Stephen creates works that invoke further investigation by the viewer in order to fully satisfy their curiosity.
"When I was nine years old my parents gave me a woodworking set"
Not a plastic toy one but one with real tools. It consisted of a hammer, screwdriver, small handsaw, bradawl, square, knife, chisel (these were the days when common sense was just that. Common), and a little pump action hand drill. I soon conscripted an old table and set it up in the garden to serve as my workbench. This was the start of my woodworking journey that is still going strong fifty plus years later.
I remember so vividly the occasion when I presented my father with a boat I had made. He was thrilled and I was overjoyed that he was thrilled and wanted to do more.
“You know”, he said, “If you look at how a real boat is made, you can make the next one even better”.
I knew exactly what he meant. Off to the library I went. This was a place you could borrow books from on any subject you liked for three whole weeks at no cost! When your only nine years old that was cool. Bear in mind that I am talking about the late 1960's before the birth of the Internet and all the social media platforms we now take for granted. Back in my childhood, if you sought information you bought or borrowed books, subscribed to specialist magazines or went to night school. That was it. Miss Kazor, the local librarian found me a book on building small sailing boats and I used the designs contained within to base my second model on. It still did not float but that's not the point, my dear old dad in his wisdom had taught me how to learn.
Despite having three major timber merchants in the immediate area, each offering bespoke joinery services I never made a career out of woodworking. Instead I drifted into retail sales for a number of years before returning to college in the mid 1980's to study for the new wave of computers. I changed direction and became a programmer, then analyst before teaching computer programming for a while. As an IT manager in the early 2000's I jacked in the stressful and hectic pace to teach IT to people with learning difficulties for a local charity. I enjoyed this immensely and it freed up hours of commuting time. Just what the doctor ordered.
At the end of the five year project I continued on a self employed basis right up to my retirement to teach, lecture and run workshops on three dimensional art heavily based around the Japanese art of Origami (another of my passions). Through all these years there was always time for a bit of woodworking but now I'm retired I finally have a workshop of my own and can explore all the facets and fascinations and beauty working with wood can bring. The 8x6 Workshop has become a popular YouTube channel where I share my adventures with the world with the help of my trusty sidekick Stanley the clamp of course. I still have the bradawl from that very first set in use in my tool collection.