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Author: Alistair Park

Woodcarving with an adult group at Tree life centre, Bristol

Woodcarving classes for adult groups

I’m a qualified teacher in the Lifelong Learning sector and have taught woodcarving and woodworking skills to adult groups in all kinds of situations. Over more than ten years, these have included;  festival goers (including at Glastonbury and the Green Gathering), corporate groups, the NHS, private tuition sessions and also working in partnership with community organisations.

Venues have ranged from muddy fields to my own studio in Bristol with the participants ranging in age from 18 to over 80 years old ( I can’t be more specific as it seemed rude to ask!).

 

teaching woodcarving to adults and young people for LinkAge

 

This project was run in collaboration with the Wild City Project and LinkAge in Bristol. A group of local people, including disengaged young people and older volunteers, worked together successfully to produce a carved wooden bench that was installed in a local nature reserve.

Several groups that I’ve worked with have included a range of ages. In workshops for Bristol City Council’s ‘Learning Communities‘ project in the St Annes Park area of Bristol, participants were encouraged to bring their children along and together they carved noticeboards.

 

Teaching woodcarving in St Annes Park, Bristol

 

If you are interested in learning woodcarving, green woodworking or other woodworking skills with a group of adults or with participants who are a range of ages, then get in contact with me.

 

Teaching at my studio

 

Carving of oak leaf in wood to say thanks

Gifts: wood engraving and carvings that say ‘Thank you’

Quite a few carvings that I have made were for a particularly lovely reason: to say thanks. Sometimes they were for people who were leaving a job or other role, sometimes they were just for valued friends.

 

scouts sign carved in wood

 

Sometimes, I’m asked to carve inscriptions on unusual objects which are to be given as gifts. Perhaps the most out-of-the-ordinary was this garden fork. Unlike many computer-controlled engraving machines, I can carve directly onto irregular and curved surfaces so there was no problem making it and then painting the image. In fact, it was a fun challenge to undertake!

 

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Carved Inscription on wooden object

 

Some people also want me to make gifts out of timber from trees that have had to be cut down. This plaque was carved out of wood from a much-loved cedar tree, for someone who was retiring from their job. I had to carefully cut up and join pieces of the timber in a very particular way, to ensure that the sculpture would last well indoors. It didn’t only require carving skills but also a good knowledge of joinery and how different timbers move as they season.

 

cedar wood carving

 

Some projects need a bit less letter cutting and a bit more artistic design, as with this plaque that was given to someone who was moving away from Bristol after many years living in the city. He loved the place and this illustration shows the ‘Matthew’ (a replica of John Cabot’s famous ship, which the recipient used to volunteer on) sailing under the Clifton Suspension Bridge, heading towards the Avon Gorge and then out towards the sea. Do you recognise the poem? It is the first two lines of ‘Sea Fever’ by John Masefield.

 

Carving of a ship

Wooden sign for a school

Signs for Schools and Community Groups

I’ve carved signs for schools and community groups all over the country. Most are made from oak but if you would like to use another kind of timber, I’d be more than happy to advise on its suitability for whatever purpose you have in mind. I also have the relevant checks in place to come and install it, if you wish.

Esther Rantzen plaque

Signs can be finished with wax (if destined to be installed indoors), varnish or finishing oils. I can tell you more about the best one to use for a particular project when you contact me. For more information, please feel free to get in touch.

Carved wooden signs for community groups

carved wooden memorial

Memorial Plaques

Memorial carvings have been some of the most touching ones that I have produced. Making a piece to remember somebody who is no longer with us is obviously not always a happy thing, but seeing how moved their friends and family are by it can be very rewarding as well.  This plaque was installed in a school in Bristol to remember a former pupil who loved nature and I felt quite lucky that his mum and his friends were there to see it installed.

 

carved wooden memorial

 

Sometimes, the piece of wood to be used is supplied and it can be an unusual shape, which many computer-controlled engraving machines wouldn’t be able to deal with. For me, it’s just an interesting challenge. One example would be this oak ball, which was to be used as the stopper on a carafe.

 

carved lettering on a wooden ball

 

I’m also frequently asked to provide inscriptions on the work of other makers. The very talented furniture maker Sue Darlison needed a carving on one of her stunning benches and asked me if I could do it. I was more than happy to. The name and the inspiration for the design came from the lovely smile of the person who was being remembered.

 

Sue darlison furniture maker

Bridget's Smile by Sue Darlison

 

working with young people with learning difficulties

Teaching People with Learning Difficulties

I’ve previously worked with both young people and adults with learning difficulties. I worked with adult learners through an organisation called ‘Treedom’ (teaching woodworking skills) and for Bristol City Council teaching their Foundation arts and crafts course. I really enjoyed both jobs and meeting the people that I worked with, some of whom were great characters and a lot of fun to spend time with!

 

Teaching young people with learning difficulties

 

I have also worked with several groups of young people with learning difficulties at St Werburghs City Farm in Bristol and found it not only a lot of fun, but also very rewarding. Getting them to work together to achieve some really good results was great to see.

If you have a project in mind involving working with people who have learning difficulties, I’d love to hear from you. I also hold an enhanced DBS check.

 

metainsecta at centrespace gallery

‘Metainsecta’ at the Centrespace Gallery, Bristol

This exhibition is perhaps closest to my heart as I initiated the whole thing, was the main organiser and exhibited with fourteen other artists. It was a success, with approximately 700 visitors in 6 days! It took two years to gather all of the exhibitors together and, when we opened in August 2008, they had created some really interesting and thought-provoking work. The group went on to show twice again, with some lineup changes, at ‘Meta anatomica’ and ‘Metamarine’.

 

'Metainsecta' Centrespace gallery Bristol

Rose sanderson artist
Illustrations by Rose Sanderson
Liz krcma ceramics
Ceramics by Liz Krčma
Bristol museum and art gallery

Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery

After the success of the ‘Metainsecta‘ exhibition in 2008, some of the group were invited to show their work in the beautiful Bristol museum. It was the ideal venue, surrounded by mahogany cases containing taxidermied specimens that were often over a hundred years old.

 

Bristol museum metainsecta

 

I’d love to show the Metainsecta series in a similar venue again one day. It seems to suit them very well.

Royal Birmingham Society of Artists Open 2010

Royal Birmingham Society of Artists Open Exhibition

In 2010, I was accepted to show in the RBSA Open exhibition. It was good to go back to a city that I know well and to show my work there. The society is also based in the Jewellery Quarter, a very historic and beautiful part of Birmingham and one of the last real trades quarters left in Britain. Almost everything around is connected to the jewellery making trade: assayers, tool suppliers and workshops as well as the jewellery college. It’s a lovely place to go for a wander!

 

RBSA Open