An interview with woodworker and artist Stephen Hawkesworth. Find out more about his creative practice and the inspirations behind it.
We are kicking off 2017 by featuring one of our favourite artists here at SEED, Stephen Hawkesworth. Stephens charming woodwork creations can be found throughout the shop and create little pockets of the seaside on the shelves. His little hand carved house cry out to be collected and are sure to remind you of family holidays or day trips as a child. We asked Stephen a few questions about his practice and what inspires him:
-Can you tell me a bit more about yourself and why you began designing?
I began working with wood as a hobby during my time as a psychiatric nurse. I was finding that my main focus of attention was shifting towards creativity and so, with encouragement from my wife, Debbie, I reduced my hours at work. This allowed more time to follow the dream of turning a hobby into a living. It’s with some degree of pride and satisfaction that I can now claim to have done just that. Even the bank manager agrees!
I’m lucky enough to live in the country, near Worcester. Going to work in the morning involves a 25 yard commute to my workshop in the garden. I would like to say that my work space inspires me and I would like to be able to give people a glimpse of it. However the reality is that I am somewhat disorganised. That is “code” for sometimes finding it difficult to get inside, losing the very tool that I was looking for and generally making the process of putting theory into practice more difficult than it needs to be. No photography allowed until my New Year resolution has been fulfilled. Both my wife and my daughter have threatened to evict me if things don’t improve.
-Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, and was fortunate to have a Dad who enjoyed making things by hand and who encouraged my early efforts. D.I.Y. was the order of the day and I enjoyed lending a hand.
-What inspires you the most?
My inspiration comes from spending holidays at the exremities of the British Isles. From Shetland to Cornwall I photograph the birds and houses that I specialise in. I love natural colours and attempt to use paint to reflect the environment in the same way that weavers create tweeds to capture the colours and textures of Hebridean landscapes. My raw materials are an inspiration in themselves. Anything from a piece of driftwood, rusty metal or a skip full of builders’ waste can start the creative process in my mind.
-Do you listen to music when you are working? If so – who are your favourite bands / singers to have on in the studio?
Music has always been central to my life. My iPod accompanies me to work every day with anything from Neil Young, the Clash or Led Zeppelin through to the Smiths and the Cure. I truly believe there is a Dylan song for every occasion and the old blues men sure knew a thing or two. I play music in my workshop that would be embarassing for the average 62 year old grandad to admit to liking but at least nobody else can hear it!
-What do you do when you aren’t working?
When not working I love to be with my family. Two little grandchildren keep me busy, even to making the odd piece of furniture for fairies. I have recently acquired a little sports car to compete in hillclimbs and sprint events. After a lifetime’s interest in motor sport I thought it was time to have a go.
-What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
I’m really not big on giving advice to others. The best I can offer is to accept constructive criticism and not to be afraid to fail. I’m fortunate enough to know people (even some customers) who will give me their honest opinion of my work. I think I’m reaching the point where I instinctively know when something is right but can still be surprised by reactions! The main thing is to enjoy what you do. When you have had enough of one process, have a rest and do something else. I certainly have no regrets in making this my full time occupation. Highly reccomended as a lifestyle.
You can view a sample of Stephen Hawkesworth woodwork here, however, we have a much larger collection available in store.