Today we have an artist interview with Adrian Mitchell who has a passion for wordturning and creating beautiful pieces from locally sourced materials.
What is your creative passion? And how would you describe your style?
I love the simplicity of woodturning – working closely with the materials and using a few basic tools. I turn local wood that would otherwise often be used for firewood so the process is close and immediate. I like to think that the pieces I create are a natural progression in the lifecycle of the materials and could almost have fallen from a tree. It takes time to achieve this, working through ideas and trying to make the best use of each log that comes into the workshop. I use wood that is green or unseasoned, and dry each piece slowly in controlled conditions, allowing natural distortions to take place. This part of the process is out of my control and is the time when each piece adopts its own unique form. I complete my work with a soft, matt oil-and-wax finish.
Where did you learn your craft?
I am self-taught in woodturning. I trained as a furniture maker and designer in my twenties but I didn’t focus on turning until more recently. I find the process very liberating after the disciplines of making furniture and joinery. I like to work intuitively without too many rules. I’m happy with a finished piece when it feels right in the hand: a combination of bulk, weight, texture and balance.
We can see you work with various woods, which is your favourite and why? Are there particular materials that are best suited for different shapes/objects or it is a personal choice for your customers/clients.
I like to use olive and almond when I can get pieces large enough – they are beautiful, close-grained fruit woods, perfect for turning. Mostly it’s wild stuff, full of knots and cracks and sometimes termites. It usually takes me some time working with the chainsaw to get to what I want out of each log. Last year I bought a dead chestnut tree – it’s much calmer and better behaved then the fruit woods, but I find it less exciting to work.
What are the products you sell or produce? And where do you sell them?
Each piece of work is unique – I don’t produce a standard product for sale. Currently I sell to local people and friends, and last year I had an exhibition which virtually sold out. I’m interested in finding a gallery to sell my work.
Where are you from originally? And what drew you to this area of Spain?
I spent many years in Bristol before coming to Andalucia. I live in the mountains just north of Malaga with my wife, who is a writer. We have always loved the raw beauty of this area and when the opportunity to move came up we took it.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from natural forms around me. I have always loved trees and recently I have been looking more closely at what they produce. It’s a bit of a cliché to talk about seedpods, but they are a true inspiration for their variety of form, colour and texture.
What are some of the creative activities you like to take part in, in the area?
I go for long walks exploring the local countryside and further afield by bike.
What would you say are the key milestones to you working in this field and selling your work?
Turning was about the only thing I enjoyed in school woodwork classes, and it has always been there in the back of my mind. Setting up the workshop and getting all the equipment here down our track was hard work. I didn’t know if we had enough power to run the machines, so it was a bit precarious – but it all fell into place as these things tend to do.
What is your favourite piece from your collection and why?
My favourite piece is usually my latest as it is the embodiment of my most recent ideas. Every so often I unpack my drying boxes to look at my latest work. I look for the merits in each piece and determine how I want the next ones to look and feel. It’s a bit like a potter unpacking the kiln.
What is your dream for your creative business?
I would like to continue to have the freedom to create work from inspiration and to become known for what I do.
What advice would you give other artists and creatives living in the Costa del Sol area?
It’s not always easy but follow your heart.
After leaving school I worked as a trainee in two small furniture workshops in Worcestershire and then went on to study furniture design at the London College of Furniture and Ravensbourne College of Art and Design. Armed with my degree I won an award to set up a workshop of my own in Leeds, where I taught and made furniture for a few years. But I hankered after being involved in the business of design, so I moved back to London and embarked on a career in commercial furniture and interior design. I worked on a huge variety of projects over the years in London and Bristol and ended up managing projects for a small design studio in Stratford-upon-Avon. About five years ago the opportunity arose to change tack and set up a workshop in Spain.
Connect with Adrian here: http://www.adrianmitchell.eu