Wonderful wood goes With the Grain at smuggler’s palace
Historic Gunsgreen House, Eyemouth, enters a new era this month when it becomes temporary home to a display of signature wood pieces by one of the Borders’ most inspirational craftsmen and sculptors. From May 31 to July 2, visitors are invited to enjoy With the Grain, A celebration of the life & Work of Tim Stead, the first exhibition ever to be held at this splendid smuggler’s palace.
Based at Blainslie, near Lauder, from 1980 until his death in 2000, Stead, was highly-respected as an artist with a passion for wood in all its manifestations. That obsession and his zeal as an environmentalist led him to develop a close relationship with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE). This exhibition is the result of the ongoing collaboration between RBGE and Stead’s widow Maggy, who continues to run the family’s well-established workshop.
Visitors to the exhibition are encouraged to interact with many of the items on display, including a piece from the “Layers” collection, allowing them to discover for themselves how Stead’s work blurred the lines between furniture design and sculpture, business and conservation, poetry and teaching. The diverse selection of signature pieces also includes a handsome Skeletal Chair and a number of intricately carved Excavations. Making a rare appearance in a public display is his first ever seat: Window Chair. This and – in the kitchen - the early Dimple Table are among the very few pieces he made from tropical hardwoods. Throughout the house are fabulous examples of other chairs, as well as a number of exquisite trademark burr elm tables.
“It is a privilege to see Tim’s contemporary work in the elegant period setting of 18th century Gunsgreen House. This is the first time his remarkable pieces have been integrated with classic furniture of a past era in such a traditional setting. I am certain visitors of all ages will be delighted by both the beauty of the wood and the excitement of the venue,” commented Alan Bennell, RBGE Head of Interpretation and co-curator, with Maggy Stead. “I do hope people of all ages will take pleasure in using beautiful and comfortable chairs, sitting at the tables and testing themselves with the enigmatic Layers on display.
“This exhibition is in tribute to a remarkable man whose philosophy and passion for the natural world was so integral to our strategies as a botanic garden. There is also an added a touch of poignancy as Eyemouth was the destination for Maggy and Tim’s very last day out before his tragically early passing in 2000”.
Gunsgreen House Manager, Derek Janes added: “To host a collection of exquisite pieces created by such a talented craftsman is a wonderful opportunity. The work of Tim Stead sets off the original features of the house in a new light in this exhibition which, I am sure, will intrigue and delight people of all ages’’.
Above- Gunsgreen manager Derek Janes with the Tim Stead mask