New Green Wood Work is an ongoing project and series of workshops which look at the craft known as coppice, i.e. the working and management of green woods, alongside contemporary design with the aim of coming up with new locally produced and affordable designs for furniture and other goods and there by reinvigorate the practice of coppice of the area. The programme is structured around bringing coppice workers and designers together to develop a series of new products for local production and distribution. Coppice management of woodland has seen a massive decline, due to lack of popularity and demand for products, leading to the replanting of many forests with conifers for the provision of larger timber rather than the smaller faster woods required for coppice work. So far the project has consisted of a series of talks and workshops which along traditional coppice workers and designers and other artists to work together in an attempt to broaden the range of application for the skill.
A morning of demonstrations and talks at Witherslack Studios, led by Charlie Whinney in which coppice workers and designers worked collaboratively on designs for new Green Wood Work. This was followed by conference at Blackwell, Arts and Crafts house in Windermere with talks from Dr Kathy Haslam (Blackwell’s Curator) on the philosophy and politics of the Arts & Crafts Movement and its contemporary relevance. Ray Leigh (chairman of the Gordon Russell Trust, and former Design Director and Managing Director of Gordon Russell Ltd) on Gordon Russell and the Utility Scheme, with a keynote speech by product designer, Michael Marriott. This lead to a workshop at the weekend, in collaboration with Brantwood Estate where participants produce many of the items designed in the Witherslack workshops.
There are further events and workshops planned as part of the ongoing project, looking to reinvigorate the coppice trade in order to feed into a wider redevelopment of the economic structure in the area - ultimately creating alternative craft industries and sources of incoming which don't rely as heavily on tourism.
Many thanks to Halecat House for hosting a fabulous dinner for the designers and greenwood workers.
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