Simon in his element: the workshop.   April 2017

Simon in his element: the workshop. 
April 2017

My woodworking career began on the end of a Hargen saw cutting sleepers and fence posts in North Queensland.

I became fascinated with the timber and was always excited at the prospect of opening a new log and being the first person to discover the hidden treasure within.

My early furniture was built out of necessity and was big, solid and rustic. I was forever hobbled by my lack of equipment and woodworking skills , however, I was obsessed, and continued making furniture which I began to sell at the local markets.

The few sales I had were enough to encourage me to continue making, so, with no real living to be made in North Queensland, I decided to go where the real money was, and moved to Sydney.

Unable to afford the expense of setting up and maintaining a workshop in Sydney with no client base or recognised skills, I became involved in the domestic building industry, specialising in the renovation of old Federation houses.

I decided that if I was ever to make a living out of furniture I needed to get some formal training.

Through a series of coincidences, I learned about the Canberra Institute of Art wood school, and after some considerable effort, I managed to gain entry into the Assc. Dip., course.

What followed were two of the most rewarding and productive years of my life.

Upon completion, I moved to Brisbane and started a small building company, and set up wood workshop devoted to furniture making.

Over the years , the building has taken a back seat and the furniture has been my main focus. My Grandfather was an avid collector of fine antique furniture, and this probably influenced my early work.

My designs now draw from Art Deco and Oriental practices. The techniques used in these pieces are extremely challenging, and require a degree of perfection which constantly taxes my ability. Therein lies the extreme sense of satisfaction gained through being challenged and coming through the process with a piece you look at, and say, “ Did I make that?”

I am always being told how lucky I am to have a passion which has lasted over 35 years, and, indeed, I am lucky, and that passion only grows with each new piece.

I find the design process the most difficult and am rarely totally satisfied with the end result. The making process, although just a means to an end, is the area where I gain the most enjoyment.

Being a maker, however, is the biggest limitation to being a designer. The constraints of making constantly influences the design. An on/off switch would be beneficial.

Recently my focus has been on smaller, more refined, chests and jewellery boxes. The size is more suited to my workshop and I can use more exotic materials with less outlay.  The techniques are the same as applied to a full size cabinet and the logistics of transporting and exhibiting are less involved.