Richard Chapman gained his passion for wood from carpentry lessons at school. Apart from these, his amazing skill and inspiration are self-taught. Platters, bowls and vessels are his mainstay, each one different and influenced by the pieces of wood that happen to be available. Local commissions have included a number for Sandringham, not least the acquisition of a sweet chestnut bole, the best cut of which went on a rose bowl that was presented to the late Queen Mother on her 100th birthday. The same bole was used again for a wedding present for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The joy is diversity and Richard has proved himself to be more than just a craftsman: he is a true artist.
Each piece of timber conceals its own character, be it Fenland bog oak that is thousands of years old, spalted beech with its dramatic black lines and coloured patches, or wondrously formed burrs. Sometimes Richard will turn the wood ‘green’ so that it warps slightly as it dries, becoming even more tactile in its asymmetry; sometimes the shapes are traditional and at others of more modern inspiration. Sometimes he uses carving; at others he will leave an edge of bark, or naturally intrusive fissures or holes – always the wood speaks for itself.
Norfolk born and bred, Richard began his career as a school games teacher but returned to his primary passion of turning in the early 1990’s and has never looked back. His regular work is for the Royal Forestry Society and Woodland Heritage, sourcing materials from local estates in East Anglia, sometimes these are of rare species.