While school is not over for a couple of weeks, Saturday 21st November not only saw the opening of ‘Transformation’, the Sturt School for Wood class of 2015’s exhibition, it was also a very special occasion – celebrating the hard work and marking the great achievement and graduation of the class of 2015 – 12 students in total. The event included many well worded thanks and speeches from inspirational individuals, well-known in fine furniture circles, including Rodney Hayward, David Upfill-Brown and Phoebe Everill.
Even though I can count on my fingers the amount of times I have met the class of 2015 I feel like I know each and every one of them – you have played a very big and special part in our lives this year (and beyond I hope), and its an absolute privilege and a pleasure. Congratulations all of you! I know it has been a journey for each and every one of you with twists and turns, ups and downs, with munts and marvels a plenty!
The graduation exhibition is aptly named Transformation celebrating the students unwavering dedication to learning the necessary skills and techniques, and their personal commitment to delivering inspirational designs, technical precision and hard-work to transform their raw materials into art. The very delivery of such a fine exhibition also marks their own personal journeys and growth as individuals, artists and skilled craftspeople. You should all be very proud of yourselves and your own transformations. Every one of you will have got something different from the year and I hope it has given you as much as it has given us – a new sense of self and purpose, new friends and a new direction.
Although I thought starting this course would be the beginning, and the year the adventure for us – its clear now, that the fine furniture course at Sturt School for Wood is indeed the beginning, but the year is just the start of an ongoing adventure for us.
As those of you who know us you will know I am the proudest proud thing ever – not just because Chris was awarded the Studio Woodworkers, Australia Emerging Professional Award (which is awesome and amazing) in addition to his certificate (which is also fantastic) but because of how hard he has worked so far and the exceedingly fine furniture he has produced already and its only the beginning.
The exhibition of works by the graduating students from Sturt School for Wood 2015 is still on at Sturt Gallery, Mittagong, NSW and runs to the 5th December. Get on down there and do some Christmas shopping!
Life has a habit of getting in the way of many things if you let it – sometimes you don’t even realise its happening and before you even know it you don’t even remember when you last spoke to some of your closest friends and family (let alone write a blog post :(). If any of you are reading this – you know who you are and it doesn’t mean we love you or think of you any less – we’re just flat out. There is no real valid excuse other than life has got in the way, we realise its happened so not sure what the next step is… is acknowledging the problem a step towards recovery in this case?
Being time poor and the never ending quest for a work-life balance are topics of fierce debate – I see it all around me – we are constantly online – incessantly multitasking – there is no down-time – we are distracted from our own lives by other peoples lives (celebrity, friend, foe or otherwise). The question we all have to STOP and ask is … are these distractions providing inspiration, comfort, knowledge? Do they have and are they adding value in our lives, providing direction or contributing in some way? or are they one big fat time suck leaving us time poor and seeking something else?
Chris is in NO WAY distracted right now. His focus has never been clearer and his mission never more demanding. Chris is at school, heading towards 12 hours a day, six days a week at the moment beavering away on his chair project (actually 2 chairs and a table!!) and I have no doubt the end result is going to be remarkable. Take note all you aspiring woodworkers and furniture makers out there … if you are going to learn fine furniture making, let it be known there can be no half measures – not if you are really going to do justice to the ‘fine’ and quite literally make a new future for yourself.
Chris is giving his all to every project, not letting his current knowledge or skills hinder the design of the piece in question, challenging himself to learn and practice the trickiest of skills, techniques and methods. If there’s one way to learn – its by doing it and giving it your all. I think we thought, when we embarked on our new adventure it was going to be a challenge and we were right – but perhaps not in the way we expected. I think the lack of time for things other than work or school with both of us doing long days and travelling two hours plus per day is perhaps the biggest challenge. We haven’t yet nailed the coastie lifestyle but its certainly on the list of things to do and what we are doing now is enjoying a rare opportunity to change the course of our lives so believe me when I say watch this space – great things are coming. Becoming a designer/maker of bespoke wooden furniture that will last generations doesn’t happen over night you know!
PS We’ll catch up with you all soon. We appreciate all your support – thank you!
So I figured it was about time for me to introduce myself! I’m Chris and I guess I’m the one to blame for this latest upheaval in the lives of Laursie and I. It may seem moving from Bondi to Bulli (about an hour and a bit south) would pale in significance compared to moving to Aussie from England but this feels just as big a change (although now as citizens there is no worry we’ll be sent back!) and in many ways more nerve wracking, but at the same time feels like the right move.
I will from time to time be writing blog entries, mostly it’ll be Laursie writing as she is much more wordy! But I will try to give my take on what’s happening in the wood side of things and try to explain what I’m doing, or at least what I’m attempting to do in the workshop.
I’ve been at Sturt School for Wood now for 3 weeks and so far I’m loving it. The teachers and the other students are great, we’ve completed a few little projects and learnt a lot about the basics as well as things I didn’t know that I didn’t know!!
It’s amazing how quickly the day goes when you are interested and enjoying what you’re doing! Something I’ve never really experienced in my school or work life, but I do get the feeling these are the easy days and the work will get much more intense, difficult and time consuming!
So it’s with excitement and some trepidation that I look forward to the coming months and hope you’ll join us on our adventure!?!
So no matter who you are, the words ‘career change’ followed by ‘going back to school’ sound pretty daunting. This is starting again, it is not a ‘this will look great on my cv’ type occasion, keeping up appearances or trying to get ahead with something extra – all this is of course hard work but ‘this’ – quitting work as Chris has known it for the last 15 years to study a course in fine furniture making – is putting what he has done, up to this point, aside and starting again! School starts at the beginning of Feb so the count down is on!
Were/are there doubts that this is the right thing to do? Naturally! But if a positive change (and hopefully happiness) hangs on a decision which is in your power to make and if no change was going to perpetuate the downward spiral of job loathing and depression then no matter how nerve wracking wouldn’t you choose to change something?
Making the decision to actually commit to change and embark on this journey seemed like the hardest thing to do but I have no doubt that the hard work is yet to come!! I am sure I don’t need to tell you life in general is expensive, learning is challenging and achieving success – whatever that looks like for you – the ultimate and elusive goal!
We are however doing it… well, Chris is doing it really but I am here to cheer him on and share the journey with all of you in the hope that one day you will perhaps see some fine wooden furniture made by Chris and know the story behind it!
PS Once Chris starts his course we hope to share all kinds of woodworking updates including showing off all his hard work! Watch this space!
So this is the year – the year we quite literally start a fresh! Top of the list of things to do is move house! Relocate from sunny Bondi to perhaps an even sunnier Thirroul or Bulli!! I am a little nervous seeing as we have yet to find a house and we need to be out of our current place by the 29th. It’s not for the lack of trying but apparently there are not so many to choose from down that neck of the woods! There is potential of course that we are being too fussy… But let’s say for now that’s not the case and the perfect property will come up in the next two weeks!
Whilst we are busily denying the shortness of time on the moving front chris has been on a tool shopping spree – I have made it sound spontaneous but it was far from it!!! It was like a second Christmas last night with wrappings flying everywhere, Chris proudly setting out some of his brand new tools on display (before wrapping them all up once more… just for now… there’s still a whole month before school starts and a move to survive!)
Looking very shiny and new
The long awaited packages arrive!
At this point I want to thank both sets of our parents! We would not be able to embark on this new start without them despite our best attempts to save everything we can! We are budgeting pro’s but with tools, materials and school fees this new start was never going to come easy! You would think that once your children pass the age of thirty you can rest easy and enjoy the low maintenance phase of parenting! Oh dear – sorry guys! We do try not to be a burden but for your help with our new adventure (and for all that you have ever done for us) we are eternally grateful!