I last wrote a blog about the After the Storm Project back in February this year and a lot has happened since then. The 12 Scottish furniture makers who were selected to take part in the exhibition have all been very busy in their workshops transforming the rough boards salvaged from the wind-damaged timber left after Cyclone Andrea into beautiful pieces of fine furniture. As you can probably imagine not all of the timber we planked and seasoned was suitable but in the end five trees yielded wood that meet the quality required for making furniture and fortunately this gave the craftsmen an interesting variety of colours, textures and patterns to work with. Further interest has been added to the wood by using different preparation and finishing techniques including smoking and charring the wood and applying different oils and waxes.
This week as all the pieces have finally been delivered and unwrapped it has felt like Christmas had come early. It has been exciting to see how 12 individual makers have interpreted our theme of storms, regeneration and resilience in so many intriguing and creative ways. The results have certainly exceeded my expectations in terms of quality and originality and are on a par with anything we have ever shown in the past. The Scottish Furniture Makers Association should be very proud of the talent they have nurtured in here in Scotland.
After the Storm follows in the wake of a number of highly successful furniture exhibitions at RBGE which began with Tim Stead’s Botanic Ash, presented in the Caledonian Hall in 1993; followed by onetree (2001), The Wych Elm Project (2009) and OneOak (2012) – working with a variety of partners. These previous exhibitions all focused on products from a single tree, a theme taken up again recently by Robert Penn in his excellent book The Man Who Made Things Out of Trees. After the Storm is the first time that a group of furniture makers have been invited to create something out of trees from a single event, and to celebrate the legacy from what at the time was universally regarded as a tragedy.
We are leaving another legacy of the storm in the form of a publication. Each of the pieces is being photographed in the Garden, as close as possible to the place where the original tree was uprooted, by master photographer Pavel Tamm. These images with their poignant juxtaposition between new life from old timber, and new growth emerging in an old Garden, will be published in the form of an ‘art book’ featuring essays on the theme of regeneration and resilience, including one by Robert Penn. This book should be available by Christmas and the exhibition After the Storm opens on 2 December in the John Hope Gateway and runs until May next year.