"Swedes have a long and rightfully proud history relating to how wood can be used for a variety of different objects and ends, but also for a multitude of reasons."
Eleanor Lakelin, wood maker
Eleanor Lakelin: wood maker
Born in a remote Welsh village, Eleanor Lakelin is a British artist who creates vessels and sculptural objects in wood. Her distinctive forms are created in response to the passage of time etched into the fibres of the material. She has exhibited widely, and this summer held her first exhibition in Stockholm at the Konsthantverkana. Eleanor spoke to British Council Sweden about her work and experience in Stockholm this summer.
"This was not only the first time that I’d exhibited in the Nordic region, but also the first time that I had visited. Sadly my time there was all too brief, but I plan to visit again soon and discover more about the country’s long history of working with wood, the timber industry and of course the Swedish design scene. Eight days was too short, but enough time to reveal that I definitely want to return.
"While I was in Stockholm, and not installing in the gallery, I had the opportunity to explore some fascinating places. Aside from outings to see the design district of the city, ArkDes and the Moderna Museet, I found observing the Vasa ship close-up extremely compelling. Themes of erosion and the layers and fissures between creation and decay are important aspects to my creative practice so I was particularly drawn to the way that the ship’s wood had responded to the test of time.
"It was clear to me that Swedes have a long and rightfully proud history relating to how wood can be used for a variety of different objects and ends, but also for a multitude of reasons. When I return, I am keen to visit the Swedish countryside and become more familiar with wood that is indigenous to Sweden and learn how artisans work with what is locally available. This also relates to how I work as an artist. I only use locally sourced wood felled in the British Isles - such as Horse Chestnut Burr and Ash. Currently a favourite is also Giant Redwood - many of which were planted in Britain in the 1850s. My creative process starts with an understanding of a tree’s lifespan from when it was planted, to when it is felled. When I visit the sawmills in places like Rutland or Northamptonshire, my suppliers know what sort of ancient, characterful wood I am looking for.
"Whilst exhibiting at Konsthantverkarna I had the opportunity to talk to a Swedish audience about my work as a British maker. As an artist, my fascination with the passage of time stems back to my own childhood spent in Wales. I relished collecting sculptural objects such as gnarled wood and bones as a small girl. I would hold these objects in my hand and in some way understood that they represented nature’s long life span. Even though I now live and work in Deptford, London, a long way from the rural woodlands of Wales, touch and physical interaction with materials is incredibly important to my work. I also like to remind people that with six million trees in London, there is almost one to represent every person."