Valentine’s Object of Lust: Eleanor Lakelin

Valentine’s Date Night? I don’t think so, buy me this instead…

Switch it up this Valentine’s Day with a creative gift from Eleanor Lakelin. It’s all about wood for award-winning British artist Eleanor Lakelin, “My work is about our relationship with the natural world’, Lakelin says. Using only wood from trees felled in the British Isles – some so old that they have been carbon-dated back to the last Ice Age – she transforms the pieces into exquisite ‘vessels’, some scorched to a striking, gleaming black, others bleached to white, their fine quality resembling porcelain, bone or stone.

First hollowing out the wood then paring it back to ‘skeleton form’ to discover the ‘organic chaos’ that lies within, Eleanor mixes traditional craftsmanship skills (complete with centuries-old chisels) to bring out the wood’s natural patterns before embracing modern techniques, such as sandblasting and scorching to help build up layers of texture.

Eleanor explains: ‘I am particularly interested in the way natural elements and processes layer and colour wood and how the passage of time is etched into the fibres of the material’. But it is not just any part of the tree – it’s the burr, a rounded growth with a circular grain, formed if a tree is injured in some way, by external damage, insect infestation or disease. ‘I find it fascinating that the burr actually exists in nature, that it can be formed by the tree reacting to something,’ she says. ‘It’s a way of healing.’

Already snapped up by the National Trust and at the Chelsea Flower Show, Eleanor’s latest collection ‘Contours of Nature’ of her unique bleached vessels is as breathtaking as ever – the result of finding a horse chestnut tree that was 300 years old, planted in 1710 at Boughton House in Northamptonshire, home of the Duke of Buccleuch. Eleanor’s work would make the Duke proud.  The vessels represent the best of British design and craft and would make a perfect Valentine’s Day gift (apart from a night’s stay at a Lucky Onion hotel).

Studio 011, Cockpit Arts, 18-22 Creekside, Deptford, London SE8 3DZ