In 2005, I was in the final year of a degree course in three-dimensional design at the art school in Exeter, Devon (part of the University of Plymouth at the time) and loved living near to Dartmoor National Park. The Park covers 368 square miles and contains windswept moorland, beautiful woodlands and many ancient sites. It is a very special place for me.
While on one visit, to Fernworthy reservoir which is in the middle of the high moors, I discovered some old beech trees that had been cut down and chopped into logs ready to be disposed of. One of the pieces of trunk came back to Exeter and was used to carve this bowl, which measures 35.5cm (14″) across at its widest point. The wood on the outside was left marked by the carving tools, then charred with a gas torch before being scraped and oiled to give the flame-like patterning. It wasn’t like other beech timber in my experience – growing slowly at high altitude had made it much denser.
This photo was taken at the time and at the spot that the wood was collected, as dusk fell. This moment was recorded on the base of the bowl itself.
The cracks and the visual record of it being worked on, shown by the carving marks, also add to the story that the bowl has to tell. I revisited this place in 2018 and got a photo of the stump of the same tree, now rotted and covered with moss but with new growth coming up from the roots. The old tree lives on in more ways than one.