I do a lot of thinking before I start a new piece; it could be at the back of my mind for weeks while still finishing another project – not planning it in detail, but gradually building up a vision of what it might look like, whether it should convey a sense of order and balance or one of vitality, tension or even discord. A typical moment of inspiration for me might be seeing a brilliant architectural design or an early 20th century painting, maybe Cubist, Constructivist, Bauhaus etc. Or an exquisite colour combination from the natural world, a piece of music that creates a particular mood, or sometimes it can be just a careless heap of left over, discarded veneers at the end of a long cutting process.
Marquetry is quite a lengthy process, especially when not setting out with an accurate drawing, but hand-cutting the veneers, which is my preferred way of working. So, making and surrounding myself with a very large selection of veneers is part of my thinking process. In my work I seek to construct alternative visual spaces and the geometric forms I use then grow intuitively. Relationships of form, colour and space evolve through the cutting process.
The ‘intelligent hand’ is an extension of the mind. The quality of the cut edge is a consequence of ‘feeling’ as much as it is of ‘thought’. The most intricate work I do is hand-cutting the veneers with a blade held at a slight angle, often very fine lines, and butting together shapes very closely while also taping them together at the same time.
What makes my heart happy about my work is when, by manipulating shape, line, edge, colour and texture, I have achieved a sense of rhythm and balance. Or simply when I hear that little ‘click’ that means two veneers have come together perfectly. Or, of course, when a customer tells me that ten years after buying a piece they still love it as much as when they bought it, which happened to me recently.