Seminar 2009

What a fantastic event this was see a detailed report from our PRO on this page.

Nick Agar
Nick is a highly sought-after and unique woodturning artist. He and his work are both inspired and influenced by nature, geography, ancient artefacts and cultures worldwide, and he feels a strong connection with the ancient civilisations such as North American Indian, Egyptian, Mayan and Aboriginal arts. Before his apprenticeship in woodturning at Dartington with the late Duggie Hart, where he turned production kitchenware, Nick was a forester in Devon and it was here that he gained a deep understanding and affection for wood and discovered his natural ability to read it. Inspired by organic forms, pottery and his natural surroundings he specialises in hollow forms and large diameter work including his renowned wall sculptures. Utilising burrs and natural edges, decoration also plays an important role in his pieces. Carving, texturing, colouring and scorching are among many of the surface enhancements that he uses. Nick’s favourite woods to work with include burrs and native timbers such as sycamore, ash, oak and elm together with spalted timbers like beech.

Benoit Averly
Born in 1980, Benoît Averly grew up in the Burgundy region of France. He graduated from high school in 1999 and then worked in different fields and travelled in several countries in Europe and North America. He began turning wood in 2002 with Gilbert Buffard and made it his profession in 2003. In the spring of 2004 he had the chance to work with well known turner Richard Raffan from whom he learnt a lot about design and production. He has been Raffan’s workshop assistant in both France and the United States. He maintains contact with Richard Raffan who has been an inspirational mentor for him. The development of his work has extended to include woodcarving.
In 2005 Benoît was invited to the Provo woodturning symposium in the United States where he exhibited and demonstrated. He learnt a lot during this trip and met woodturners from all over the world. This has led to his being invited abroad again for demonstrations and exhibitions. In the spring of 2006 Benoît won the national contest for young craft artists “Concours Jeunes Createurs” organized by Ateliers d’Art de France and later in the same year he won the “Prix Départemental de la SEMA”
His work is now part of the collection of the museum “Musée des Pays de l’Ain.”

Eli Avisera
Eli Avisera was born in 1960. He grew up, studied and continues to live in Jerusalem. Between the years 1973-1977 he studied at the School of Wood Art in Jerusalem. Since then Eli has been a professional woodworker.
As an international woodturning demonstrator and teacher Eli has been invited to many countries to show his unique variety of techniques. He uses a line of his own signature tools which have been developed and based on over 30 years of experience in woodturning.
In 1988 Eli established the “Wood Craft Centre” where he teaches workshops for furniture making, woodturning and carving at all skill levels. To date he has taught hundreds of students and has been instrumental in promoting this art. In 2003 Eli was invited to the Woodturning Centre in Philadelphia as a participant in the “International Turning Exchange”.

Bob Chapman
After teaching chemistry for many years, Bob took early retirement to become a full time professional woodturner. He is a member of the Register of Professional Turners and lives and works in Bingley, in West Yorkshire.
He is a frequent contributor of articles on woodturning to both ‘Woodturning’ and ‘The Woodworker’ magazines and is much in demand as a demonstrator and teacher.
He says this about himself…
“When I meet other woodturners for the first time they sometimes ask me what I make. No matter how many times it happens, it always confounds me. I want to say that I’ll make ‘anything you want, as long as it’s round’, after the style of Henry Ford’s ‘any colour you like, so long as it’s black’, but the question always makes me feel slightly inadequate because I haven’t got that ‘single item’ speciality that seems to be expected of me”.
Although he still enjoys making the woodturner’s usual spectrum of bowls, boxes, hollow forms and, more commercially, staircase spindles, newels, table legs and so on, Bob is currently developing his own definitive style of work. He has begun exploring ways in which turned objects can be cut and reconstructed, as well as making them more interactive, to be rearranged to create different effects, rather than simply viewed from a single perspective.
Despite lacking any formal training in design, Bob has achieved some success with these pieces and says ‘when a piece has no obvious function or use, it may be perceived as art or simply dismissed as worthless. It’s up to the viewer to decide and, fortunately for me, opinions on my work have tended to be favourable.’

Mick Hanbury
Mick Hanbury was born in Cyprus, the son of a soldier, and travelled around Europe for most of his childhood. He spent a lot of time in Germany and hence is fluent in German and can teach in German.
He started his career as a cabinet maker where he made all manner of artifacts. Around 18 years ago he took to woodturning and since then has grown in stature to become one of the finest artistic turners.
Mick Hanbury demonstrates at local and national shows in the USA, Germany, and Ireland and at woodturning clubs throughout the UK.
Mick used to be the resident tutor at Doncaster College teaching Open College Network levels 1-3 to mature students. Mick also teaches his specialised woodturning techniques in his workshop in Lincolnshire as well as at Craft Supplies (in the UK and France), and at Isaac Lord in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.

Ray Key
Ray has loved making things from wood throughout his life; his first recollections are from around the age of seven. Whittling, carving and fretwork were all interests. He has been a member of the Worcestershire Guild of Designer Craftsmen since 1973, during that time he has served as Secretary, Treasurer, Chairman and President. He has been turning wood for over forty years. His passion for his subject and his willingness to share his knowledge has resulted in considerable opportunities to travel. His making, teaching and demonstration skills are known worldwide. Seminars and workshops have been undertaken in Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, USA and the UK.
He was the founding Chairman of The Association of Woodturners of Great Britain in 1987. In 1997 he was accorded Life Member status and is now our President. He was made a Life Member of the American Association of Woodturners in 2001. In 2002 he became a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Turners by Presentation (a rare honour). These awards recognise his contribution and commitment to his chosen field.

Glenn Lucas
From a farm at the foothills of Mount Leinster, Co Carlow, Ireland, Glenn developed a love of working with wood at an early age. At sixteen he became passionate about woodturning. He realised quickly that there was a demand for his well-designed and handcrafted pieces.
On finishing school in 1993 he began an apprenticeship as a cabinetmaker where he learned many new skills. In 1996 he set up his own business as a woodturner and undertook a two year business course with the Crafts Council of Ireland in Kilkenny and Carlingford, Co Louth. Since then demand for his work has grown steadily.
Returning to Co Carlow in 2005 with his family, Glenn built an efficient studio. From here he runs a business that produces approximately 1500 fine crafted bowls per annum.

Mike Mahoney
Mike Mahoney has been a professional wood turner since 1994. His bowls are featured in galleries across the United States. Mike’s work is sought after by collectors all over the world. Mike is often requested to demonstrate and teach for woodturning clubs, craft schools and symposia. He has travelled around the world to discuss and demonstrate his craft.
“I am passionate about my craft and the American Craft movement. I am dedicated to producing quality craft and educating the public about woodturning. My wood comes from urban sources (tree trimmers and local cities). I produce all my work on the lathe without any embellishments after the fact, creating a very traditional feel with contemporary ideas. I want my work to be attractive as well as useful. For my work to be admired is one thing, but for my work to be used fulfills my purpose as a craftsman.”

Joey Richardson
Joey, as well as being a mother and housewife, is a professional turner who first became interested in woodturning in 1993 after attending classes with Chris Stott RPT and Stuart Mortimer RPT
She is on the register of professional turners held by the Worshipful Company of Turners, a member of the Association of Woodturners of Great Britain (AWGB) and the Association of American Woodturners (AAW).
In 1998 she tentatively entered her first competitive work, ‘The Planets’ in the International Woodturning Show at Wembley where she gained the runner-up prize. This spurred her on to more competition work where she gained many firsts and trophies for her innovative work gradually honing her skills until in 2002 she was accepted on the Register of Professional Turners. Continuing with her competition work she won the Gold Medal at the International Woodworking Show at Alexandra Palace in the Prestige category in 2004.
The real turning point for her career was when she won the 2005 Bursary award of the Worshipful Company of Turners which provided the funds for travel to America to study different techniques. After attending the AAW symposium, the biggest woodturning event in the world, Joey chose to study with Trent Bosch, David Nittmann and Binh Pho.

Al Stirt
Al Stirt has been a professional woodturner for more than 30 years. His work is included in numerous public and private collections, including the Smithsonian, the White House and the American Craft Museum. He has demonstrated and taught about woodturning & design in England, Ireland, New Zealand and Canada as well as throughout the U.S. In 1997 the American Association of Woodturners awarded him an Honorary Lifetime Membership for his commitment and contributions to the field of woodturning.
In addition to his functional bowls and platters, for the last 20 years he has been making ceremonial objects to try to address emotional and spiritual needs.

One-Slot Presenters
In addition to the front rank presenters we also like to allocate single slots to new faces who have exhibited a talent for woodturning, and who may wish to put a toe in the great ocean of demonstrating. These individuals, probably four on this occasion, are selected by the Seminar Organising Committee, from amongst the first 100 or so delegates to sign up for the full Seminar experience. Likely people are approached by the SOC, not the other way round, and if they are agreeable a small financial incentive is arranged. Past one-slot presenters include Mark Hancock, Julie Heryet, John Berkeley, Simon Hope and Bob Chapman.

2009 Seminar Report from Andy Coates RPT

The 12th AWGB IWS began at 14.00 hours on the 7th August in a lecture theatre filled to capacity with a record number of delegates. The welcome session began with a short address from Chairman, Reg Hawthorn, and an audio visual presentation on each of the contributing presenters. With a flavour of what the weekend had on offer the seminar proper began with the first session of demonstrations.

Mike Mahoney, Ray Key, Al Stirt, Glen Lucas, Eli Avisera and Benoit Averley all demonstrated during this first session, and if the comments heard afterwards were anything to go by, it was going to be an exciting three days for delegates. Over the next two days delegates could also choose to see demonstrations from Nick Agar, Joey Richardson, Bob Chapman and Mick Hanbury, as well as any of the four one-slot demonstrations by Anne Hayes, Dennis Keeling, John Jaques and Nick Arnull.
The Instant Gallery was opened later in the day by our honoured guest, Bert Marsh, to an enthusiastic audience. The Instant Gallery was widely acknowledged as being the “best yet”, and the difficulty the judges would later have in choosing the best fifty pieces was clear to all.

At 20.30 all the delegates, presenters, traders, and committee members, gathered in the main auditorium for the Live Online Internet Auction; the first of its kind anywhere. Nicholas Somers FRICS generously gave both his time and experience to auction the lots on behalf of the AWGB, and the ATG had kindly arranged for the auction to go live online to a world-wide audience.

The auction was of thirty-eight lots, each supplied by past presenters of AWGB IWS, and each had agreed to donate 45% of the auction price to the AWGB/WCT Youth Training Program. A not inconsiderable contribution when some of the reserves were noted.

The winning bids were pretty-well spread between Internet bidders and members of the Seminar audience, and everyone seemed to have been captivated by the excitement of this new event.

When Nicholas Somers “topped up” the final sale figure from his own pocket, “too keep things tidy”, the sale achieved the staggering total of £13,000. The exact sum by which the YTP will benefit is not yet finalised, as a number of vendors donated the entire sale price, and ATG also made a generous contribution; but the figure is likely to be in excess of £7,000!

The online auction was always going to be “a bit of a punt”, in more ways than one: it had never been done before, the timescale was tight, the lots were coming from all over the world, and we couldn’t be entirely certain that the considerable advertising had reached precisely the right people, but on the night the atmosphere was electric, the auditorium almost hummed with anticipation, and I doubt there was a single disappointed person in the room by the end of the auction. Nicholas Somers did an unsurpassable job, with the technical support of the ATG team, and without doubt the event was an astounding success and an experience I wouldn’t have missed for the world…but please, NEVER AGAIN!

After a full day of demonstrations, Saturday was rounded-off with the banquet. After a fantastic dinner…and the odd glass of wine…presentations were made to Bert Marsh, who received a special award of AWGB Life Membership for his contributions to woodturning over many years, and to Jason Breach, who received the Tony Boase Award for the best piece in the Instant Gallery.

The, by now familiar, post-banquet auction followed, and an amazing further £2000 was raised for the Member Development fund by auctioning off work which delegates had kindly donated for the cause. It should be remembered that all AWGB members can benefit from the fund, and heartfelt thanks go all those who kindly donated towards the auction.

Sunday’s schedule of demonstrations got off to a good start, and was only interrupted by what seems likely to become a regular, and popular, event: The Traders Bazaar. Sixteen traders had stalls bristling with all the tools and equipment, sundries and consumables that a wood turner could possibly require…and some you had to convince yourself you couldn’t live without! Trade seemed brisk, and many a heaving carrier bag was spotted in the theatres during the afternoon demonstrations.

The raffle closed the seminar at 16.30, and a packed auditorium gathered to hear the draw. Despite a slight technical hitch the draw got underway, and an amazing array of prizes was collected by the lucky winners. I even managed to win some lovely beech bowl blanks myself!

AWGB seminars are only about three things: turnery, turners, and turning. For what does seem, it has to be said, a long weekend, you are immersed in woodturning day and night. Throughout the day you watch top-level demonstrations, discuss what you’ve seen with other turners – some old friends, some new acquaintances – spend the evenings discussing things even further over a drink, and in any spare minutes in-between you can wander around the extensive Instant Gallery and be overwhelmed with inspiration (and envy) at the skills and imagination on display there.

Woodturning in the UK may not be everything that some people think it ought to be, but the 12th AWGB seminar showed what it is…it is alive and well, vibrant and progressive, active and exuberant. And the evidence? The number of delegates beat all records, the number of day visitors broke all records, the money raised for member development broke all records, and the range of work on show was more diverse than ever. All things considered I’d say that the 12th AWGB international Seminar gave a good account of woodturning in the UK today, and together we can take things even further.

The Executive Committee would like to take the opportunity to thank all the companies and individuals, far too numerous to list here, without whose help and support we could not have managed. You know who you are, and thank you all.

If you missed this seminar…do yourself a favour…don’t miss the next one!

Andy Coates AWGB PRO