WWOS 2022: Neil Turner

I started turning when I was 19 on a home-made lathe using wood that I unearthed while tilling the soil. I’m really unsure as to the reason why I started; it was something that I enjoyed the more I explored.

A drive around galleries in the South West of Western Australia made me realize that my work was of a comparable standard and I began supplying galleries in the South West, Perth and Canberra with a range of natural edge bowls made from burls from the Goldfields of Western Australia.

I attended workshops whenever I could to develop my skills and with the encouragement of some very skilful artisans in Western Australia, namely Gordon Ward, Vaughn Richmond and Jack De Vos my skills developed.

It wasn’t until I attended some workshops with Steven Hughes and Vic Wood that opened my eyes to the potential of the wood lathe. Turning could be more than just making rolling pins and salt and pepper shakers; it could be used to create pieces of art.

I became interested in developing more artistic pieces using the inspiration from my farming background. This culminated in me sending some photos to Del Mano Gallery in Los Angeles USA on the advice of Vaughn Richmond. A phone call early one morning from the gallery owner resulted in me selling into the collector’s market. All the work sold in the USA is sculptured and textured.

I left the farm and moved to 10 acres of virgin bush south of Bunbury to pursue a different career, attending Dwellingup School of Wood, achieving a Diploma of Fine furniture making.

Living on the land as a farmer my earlier work was influenced by harmonies within nature. The quiet ripples in the sand left by wind, raging roaring swirling flames of fire and soothing eddies left by running water. Since moving to the coast my inspirations have changed, wonderful shapes of seashells, coral and fine translucent appearance and structure of some seaweed and sponges.

My work now reflects influences from my past and incorporates some elements of my present environment. Combining these ideas from past and present has proved challenging, bearing in mind they must complement one another and maintain a balance with itself.

I still rely on the wood to direct me, working with grain direction and pattern, blemishes and voids. The final destination is a piece that will inspire close inspection; thinking and feeling that the work is at peace in its surroundings.

Timber is a living breathing organism that captures my imagination. The opportunity to express thoughts and ideas in a tangible creation that continues to react within its environment. To design and create in timber poses many challenges both in structure and integrity, but the pleasure I derive from my work is simple, a joy and passion to create pieces of work that I like.