Only two years ago, Canterbury, U.K.-based artist Oliver Chalk began creating bold, geometric vessels out of wood. Having worked previously with fabric to design and produce large-scale installations for events, his interest in experimentation with new materials and techniques led to working with found timber. Carving detailed forms from the hulks of trees found in the local countryside of Kent, the artist considers the practice of turning and whittling sculptures to be a means of communication and an expression of self through symmetrical shapes and striations. The process of repeating a mark over and over often produces a state of mindfulness. “Imparting my mark through gouging hundreds, if not thousands, of seemingly arbitrary fissures by hand is a profoundly personal journey,” he tells Colossal.
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The sustainability and local sourcing of the materials is an important part of Chalk’s approach. All of the wood he gathers comes from native species that he collects from local arborists or forages close to his workshop, finding cuts from trees that have been felled by storms or are partly decaying. The shapes he chips into each piece reflect a merging of nature and the man-made. “Being self taught, I am still very much listening and learning about the material,” he says. In each vessel he highlights the natural gradations of color, growth rings, knots, and fissures, emphasizing the relationship between organic form and geometric precision.