Meet the Maker | Eleanor Lakelin

Each week we ‘meet a maker’ from within the Walpole membership, shining a light on the highly skilled craftspeople creating British luxury products and experiences. Today, introducing Eleanor Lakelin, artist and maker in wood, and an alumnus of Walpole’s Crafted programme.

Tell us what you do?

I create vessels, forms and sculptural installations from some of Britain’s most fabulous and ancient trees. I have made work for the National Trust from a tree planted by the Duke of Wellington in 1827 and carved pieces from a 7,000 year old oak tree dug up by a farmer in the East Anglian Fens. My most recent outdoor installation at Forde Abbey in Somerset (recently nominated in the British Wood Awards 2017) uses Wellingtonia grown in Britain but brought back as seed from California by Cornish botanist William Lobb in 1853. By turning on a woodworking lathe, sculpting freehand or carving with chisels, I search for a form that is true to the spirit of the wood and a texture rooted in the rhythm of growth and the passing of time.

What do you love most about your job?

I love the fact that I start with only a piece of tree and that by slowly cutting away parts of it I am able to ‘grow’ a form or vessel. I love the feel and smell of green wood as I cut into it and the start of a new journey.  I love peeling back the bark to see what lies inside and knowing that this has never been seen before by human eyes. I love knowing that these trees have been growing for centuries beyond my own lifetime and that it is my responsibility to make something beautiful that reflects the soul of the tree and breathes new life into it.

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