I was born in Oxford in 1943 and emigrated to Australia in 1965, returning to England in 1976. Having worked primarily in accounting and administration, I felt the need for change. In 1980 I spent some time studying Eastern philosophy and holistic medicine, whilst seeking a suitable outlet for my creativity. I first started working on a woodturning lathe while enrolled at Crewe and Alsager College of Higher Education.
The Enterprise Allowance Scheme gave me the opportunity to set up in business in November 1984, working in wood. In May of the following year, I had bought a lathe and was soon realizing the possibilities that it offered. Over the next few months. I started producing one-off bowls and platters. Encouraged by the publics response at Craft Fairs, I began selling my work through galleries.
In August 1986, I had my first one-man exhibition at the Leeds Craft and Design Gallery. Since then, I have exhibited extensively in galleries in the United Kingdom and Germany.
In the process of seeking inspiration for my work, I have discovered a wealth of ideas in vessel and other forms from many cultures, traditions and disciplines. Each idea becomes a seed that either grows, expands, changes shape and flowers or remains dormant until called forth some time in the future.
Sometimes I follow through specific themes, other times I become excited by a new idea and go off at a tangent to try something quite different. I enjoy the infinite challenges and risks that are part of the process; wood is aliveit moves, shrinks, puckers and splits, constantly presenting new possibilities.
Until recently the starting point for each piece would have been a roughhewn chunk of wood from my wood store, which consists mainly of elm and oak burrs that I harvest locally. As I start to remove wood in the turning process, various possibilities emerge and the characteristics of each piece of wood are a major influence.
I may exploit the texture by wirebrushing, leaving the tool marks and ridges, or by cutting grooves and segments with my lathe-mounted chainsaw. Color may be affected by scorching, ebonizing, staining, painting, or turning in ammonia. Some areas may be sanded smooth to highlight the grain; others parts may be sandblasted to exploit the aged look of a piece. Sometimes I use rope to encircle the exterior or make handles: iron plates, wire and nails for securing cracked or broken edges, lacing with leather or cord over a split in the wood. I often leave areas from outside of the tree surface to create sculptural effectsthese may leave cavelike openings in the sides of vessels, coral-like fringes on the base or undulating mountain peaks around the rim of the vessel.
Recurring themes in my work have references to archaelogyamphitheatres, ancient ruins and castellated turrets.
See Mikes ITE work.