'Flower form', 1995. Image © of the artist Steve Howlett.
A retrospective of turned wooden sculpture by Steve Howlett
Steve Howlett uses mostly holly, sycamore and olive ash for his sculptures. Woods have different characteristics and properties. Holly shrinks a great deal as it dries, giving interesting and extreme distortions. Sycamore is suitable for larger sculptures and distorts less than holly, it also has subtle effects in the grain.
Each piece starts as a rough block of wood. It is turned on a lathe and the outside is cut away to form the shape. The inside is then hollowed out to produce a sculpture with walls of uniform thickness.
The sculpture has to be shaped in one day because if it is left overnight it will begin to distort. Some pieces can take up to twelve hours to shape on a lathe. Once completed the sculpture is left to dry and distort for four to six weeks. Finally, it is sanded, oiled and waxed to give the desired finish.
National Museums Liverpool would like to thank Chris Robinson and Eileen Bartley for kindly lending their collection for display.