A PROPERLY BLUSTERY DAY - POOH AND PIGLET WOULD HAVE APPROVED !
Hello everyone – my word, it’s been blowy out ! What a sobering sight it was last weekend to see all the trees that had been brought down up and down the country by winter storms. It may seem to be a tragic waste but – of course – it’s been the way in which wood has been made available to humans as a useful commodity from way back in the remote past.
Wood must have been one of the very first natural resource that we took advantage of (other than water and protein sources for pure subsistence), and we’ve been working with it for untold millennia. You can always tell when something becomes absolutely engrained in a culture when it gives rise to enduring surnames – I’m sure we all know our share of Sawyers, Foresters and Turners – I even went to school with a Bodger back in the day – and all of their predecessors would have worked with wood in some capacity. Look at own national history in less remote times; the sustained development of wooden ships enabled the exploration, colonisation and martial endeavour that underpinned the establishment of the British Empire.
From a less wide-ranging perspective, the Wealden landscape has been shaped since the Roman occupation first by the availability of wood to power the iron and rudimentary glassmaking industries, and then – with the trees cleared – by the animal husbandry and farming that has also left us with so many place-names ending in ‘hurst’ and ‘den’ – the evidence of our wood-related heritage is right there, every day.
This age-old association has meant is that we seem have a collective empathy to some degree with wooden objects – an almost inbuilt appreciation of seeing living things crafted in to useful, practical and decorative items. And if you’re able to add an element of local relevance to the process, it takes it one stage further. I’d like to think that everyone in our area has some sort of affinity with Tunbridge Ware for instance, something that almost literally put the name of the town on the map.
With our own location on The Pantiles, at ScottishAntiques.com we’re right at the heart of where the trade flourished, with items being made and sold down here since the latter part of the 18th century. Many a local child would have earned a few pennies by scouring the estate belonging to the Marquess of Abergavenny in search of the sought-after 'green oak' which was much prized - in particular - by the maker Thomas Barton. That’s one reason that we’re going out of our way to assemble a wide collection of Tunbridge Ware pieces - but they’re a long way from being our only wooden artefacts of note.
A rather more refined use of wood can be demonstrated by the magnificent Art Deco furniture provided by Jeroen Markies, one of our new partners at The Pantiles Arcade. Jeroen will be making available some of the most alluring furniture of this period, by makers such as Maurice Adams, Harry & Lou Epstein, Salamon Hill, Follot and Leleu. Of a more prosaic nature we will also have absolutely contemporary pieces – wooden sculptures and decorative pieces – produced by Bedford & Burkill from South Yorkshire who, with considerable relevance, utilise stocks of wood which have largely been accumulated from ‘windfalls’ gathered over the last ten years or so.
It's reassuring to know that at least some of the great trees that have been brought down recently will be put to good use by craftsmen following in creative footsteps going back many hundreds of years - even if they're working on a scale not quite so daunting as the production of vast wooden warships !