about Steve Howlett

Steve Howlett 2018

I have been working with wood professionally for over 40 years and, apart from two years training as a joiner, I am completely self taught. Between 1975 and 1985 I worked as a furniture maker, restorer and turner whilst also dabbling in sculpture. From 1985 to 2005 I focused exclusively on turning wood.

Initially, between 1985 and 1989, I concentrated on functional work and during this period I designed and made a small range of kitchen utensils which was sold in the David Mellor kitchen shop in London. I had no intention of becoming an artist, but I always tried to produce work of exceptional quality. However, in 1989 I started experimenting, out of necessity, with turning unseasoned wood. I had seen a beautiful holly bowl by Richard Raffan which had been green turned and had distorted with perfect symmetry. It occurred to me that if it was possible to predict the distortion of a piece with such accuracy then a whole new world of design was opened up which was not possible if one only used seasoned timber. It also struck me as an exciting challenge and, at this point, I could see no one who was developing this idea in anything but the the most mundane way.

In 1994, I ceased turning functional pieces, preferring the excitement and challenge of taking green turning as far as I could. The focus of this work has been on creating an aesthetically successful marriage between the predictable distortion of wood as it dries and the highly refined forms I had developed over the years. Examples of this work may be seen in the archive section of the website.

During 2005 my eyesight was deteriorating and it was becoming increasingly difficult to create the perfect forms I was trying to achieve. Combined with some very painful RSI in my thumbs and elbow, I was forced to abandon this stage of my career. I took a break from the workshop from 2006 to 2011, focusing on music in order to refresh my mind and aching limbs. Unfortunately, during this time, Rita, my wife of 42 years, became increasingly disabled so my energies were directed toward caring for her until her death in 2017. This turn of events led me to be out of the art world for just over a decade.

I now have a new workshop, beautifully sited on the banks of the Dyfi estuary, and am using all my previous experience to create new, sensual, organic, abstract sculptures in wood and bronze.