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A major exhibition 'Enriching the Language of Furniture' launches at the Guild this autumn

PUBLISHED: 15:21 27 August 2010 | UPDATED: 17:46 20 February 2013

A major exhibition ‘Enriching the Language of Furniture’ launches at the Guild this autumn

A major exhibition ‘Enriching the Language of Furniture’ launches at the Guild this autumn

A major exhibition 'Enriching the Language of Furniture' launches at the Guild this autumn and it will go on to tour the UK taking in quality venues round the country including Somerset House.

Sat 18 Sept Fri 29 Oct 2010
John Makepeace Enriching the Language of Furniture

A major touring exhibition of outstanding furniture by the Dorset-based designer. Johns sustainable approach and use of indigenous wood make him a pioneer in the craft. Function, structure and expression are explored in contemporary tables, chairs and cabinets, borrowed from international collections. Relevant to students of design and anyone with an interest in woodworking and interiors. School visits are welcome.

A Devon Guild touring exhibition, generously funded by Arts Council England. Touring nationally through 2011.

The Devon Guild of Craftsmen, Riverside Mill, Bovey Tracey, Devon TQ13 9AF

FREE T: 01626 832223, E: Open daily 10-5.30


13 October 6.30pm
Talk by Furniture Designer, John Makepeace

John talks about the work on show in the current Devon Guild retrospective exhibition, his

techniques and influences. In The Terrace Caf. 6/ 4. Book in advance.

T: 01626 832223, E:


John Makepeace Enriching the Language of Furniture
18 September 29 October 2010
The Devon Guild of Craftsmen, Bovey Tracey, Devon, TQ13 9AF

A major exhibition Enriching the Language of Furniture launches at the Guild this autumn and it will go on to tour the UK taking in quality venues round the country including Somerset House. It is the first solo show of furniture maker, John Makepeace, a West Country craftsman who spent 50 years working in wood and teaching carpentry, eventually becoming renowned in the world of British design for research into indigenous woodlands and sustainable materials.

Johns contemporary tables, chairs and cabinets are now collected by clients worldwide. Pieces on show include recent work such as the Zebra cabinets and a set of tables made from a single elm tree. Makepeace is inspired by the way the human body moves and the natural formations of trees, sand, plants, dancing, wood and water. This is evident in Clover (V&A), in the scorched legs and branched back of Phoenix chair and Ripple - a chest with waves carved into the surface of the oak - made from oaks planted in 1740 and harvested in 1980.

His exhibits are set in clusters showing different indigenous woods (combined with bronze, stainless steel, aluminium and leather) and the techniques used to carve, layer, lathe, bleach and bend it into beautiful items used in the home.

Makepeace says: As a designer and a maker, I am constantly searching for more eloquent concepts for furniture. My objective is to achieve freer, lighter, stronger and more sculptural forms better suited to their function and more expressive of what is unique about each commission. My passion is to create masterpieces that enrich peoples lives and the language of furniture. 2010

While his furniture shows the design journey of a pioneering craftsman, there is also a film, related resources and activities that explore ideas about furnishing, interiors and lifestyles in different societies and through time. Jana Scholze (Curator of Twentieth Century Furniture, V&A) opens the exhibition on Friday 17 September.

Images: zebras, cabinets by John Makepeace. Courtesy of John Makepeace Furniture.

Tour Schedule:

The Devon Guild of Craftsmen, Devon 18 Sept - 29 Oct 2010

Harley Gallery, Wellbeck, Worksop, Nottinghamshire 7 Nov - 24 Dec 2010

Collins Gallery, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow 15 Jan - 5 March 2011

Somerset House, London 16 March -15 April 2011

Crafts Study Centre, Farnham, Hampshire 26 April - 16 July 2011

Lotherton Hall, Aberford, Leeds, Yorkshire 23 Sept - 20 Nov 2011

The Devon Guild of Craftsmen is the largest contemporary crafts centre in the South West. It is a Membership organisation and educational charity which supports established and emerging makers and provides professional development, marketing and learning opportunities. Its mission is to educate and develop further understanding of contemporary crafts. John Makepeace Enriching the Language of Furniture is curated by the Guilds Exhibitions Officer Saffron Wynne.

John Makepeace Furniture is based in Beaminster, Dorset where John heads a team of craftsmen who have worked with him for over 30 years. His design studio accesses indigenous woodlands allowing naturally seasoned, sustainable timbers to be used to produce bespoke furniture. John undertakes commissions for private, commercial or public projects. His studio aims to extend the boundaries of function, structure and expression beyond those normally associated with furniture.

Funding for this exhibition tour was granted by Arts Council England with additional support from Steele Raymond Solicitors LLP. We would like to acknowledge and thank these organisations whose support has made this exhibition and tour possible

The Devon Guild of Craftsmen, Riverside Mill, Bovey Tracey, Devon TQ13 9AF

01626 832223

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