THE PROCESS OF CARVING WITH SCOTT SMITH
This month’s theme explores the impacts of Lockdown, calling on emerging talent to look for the positives that have come out of these challenging times and consequently, how these experiences have inspired design.
Carry on reading to discover what our designers think about how lockdowns will shape the future of the design world!
INTRODUCING THE DESIGNER
Exploring the processes of carving, raising, and casting, Scott’s practise questions repetitive markings, rhythmic making and the importance of meditative craft. Materials such as reclaimed wood, sheet metal and a variety of repetitive and meditative practises, traditionally favoured by ancient Scottish craftspeople, has changed the direction of his collection, Boorachie, in many ways over the last year, after spending time in North-East Scotland’s coastal landscape.
How much do you think the pandemic and lockdowns has influenced your design work?
Lockdown was a major influence on my design work this year. Being forced to leave the workshop environment and the comforts of city-living to being back on my childhood farm in the North-East of Scotland was a real shock to the system and changed my outlook on material exploration and experimentation. After spending time back home and with family, responsiveness to environment and reflective practice have emerged as qualities in my works; a passion for meditative practises that allows for an expansive role for materials, instinctive making, and spontaneous responses. Using carving skills acquired while in the Scouts and learning to appreciate the abundance of natural material available in rural Aberdeenshire, made possible a reflection and careful consideration of our relationship with such organic matter. While analysing and interrogating wood chips as evidence of manufacturing processes, this knowledge assimilated seamlessly within research undertaken on early Scottish carvings, contemplating mark making and the authenticity of replicas. Without Lockdown and having to rethink my design language, I wouldn’t have had the opportunities to rethink my relationships with wood, carving and the coastal landscape surrounding my childhood home.
Where did your interest in design stem from?
Throughout childhood I was interested in design, the space we occupy and our relationship to the built environment. I was interested in becoming an architect and undertook a placement with a local architectural technician while in school to gain a better understanding of this career. I soon learnt that it was very mathematical and technically driven which wouldn’t allow me to unlock my full creative potential therefore after a long discussion and experimentation with my art teacher at Banff Academy, I was encouraged to explore body adornment. After studying HND Jewellery Design at City of Glasgow College, I attended Glasgow School of Art to study Silversmithing and Jewellery, which is where my interest in tableware began.
Do you think the ways in which lockdown has changed our lifestyle will continue to influence the design industry? What are your trend predictions for 2022?
I believe a more ‘homemade’ approach to design will continue in the industry as people continue to be inspired by their surroundings and appreciate their home environment in more interesting and creative ways. Natural materials and traditional craft skills will continue to grow in popularity as studio access is limited and people begin to live with the new normal. This is something that interests me and I look forward to exploring ancient low-tech skills that can be attainable for all to try.
What helped you get through lockdown?
Long walks with my family dog in Banffshire, along the coast and through ancient woodlands. I usually only get to see my family, and my dog, twice or three times a year as I visit home during the holidays so I was very grateful for the time I got to spend outdoors with them all throughout summer. Being on the farm and enjoying the sun in a quiet and peaceful area allowed me to get back into wood carving, something I haven’t revisited since Portsoy Scouts, which really did help me get through lockdown and continue to be creative.
What inspires you most on a day-to-day basis?
I’m inspired by my surroundings and the environments in which I can create. If I am camping or hiking then the hills and Scotland’s roaring landscape inspires me. If I am in the Silversmithing studio then my peers and the shared energy of making inspires me. It is important to me to take note of the space I occupy, How I interact with others in that space and the impact my actions have on or in the space. I photograph any interaction I have with a new environment and take notes on how I felt while exploring it, always thinking how it can influence my work and how an object I create would interact with the space in which it was informed by.
When spending so much time at home within the last year, what did you realise you were grateful for?
I began to appreciate how lucky I was to grow up in such a beautiful part of the world. As a child I wasn’t interested in following my fathers footsteps of becoming a farmer so was quick to dismiss the farm I grew up on after moving to Glasgow. However, after spending a significant part of 2020 back in the comforting surroundings of my home, It opened my eyes to the beauty and tranquillity of the area. I am so grateful for all the happy memories I have playing outside, walks with my family, spending time with animals and the abundance of natural materials to create from surrounding my home.
What’s your go to stimulus when you start to create work?
I always begin a project by photographing the environment surrounding me that I will be creating in, as well as the space in which the object I am designing for occupies. I then document these images in a sketchbook and begin detailed notes on my feelings to my surroundings and any initial ideas or stimuli I felt while documenting. My sketchbook for each project then becomes vital in my design process as I record each idea, development and investigation I have while exploring a design. I often revisit these sketchbooks at the start of a new project to understand where I have come from and how my design language has changed as I grow as a maker.