This is one of the common questions I’m asked in the gallery…well, that and, “can you tell me how to get to Ride & Drive, please?” But that’s another story. And another pastime. And also a very good tack shop…(do I get a discount now?)…
So…it’s a common question. And it’s also one I’m at a loss to answer fully and honestly. In truth I don’t know where or what they are. At least not specifically. For some reason I’m often asked if they are Aboriginal or African, and I suppose in some subconscious manner they might well be.
I often wonder what the point of the question is. If I were able to answer in the affirmative would this help the enquirer? Would it enable an enquiring woodturner, for instance, to go away, immerse his or herself in the art and culture of say ,Africa, and in so doing provide them with influences and inspirations? So why not just go away and do it anyway? Why ask? If that’s what you see/feel, then surely that should be enough?
I think that in the main, most turners have a myriad of influences. Everything you’ve ever read, seen, touched, watched or owned can have a place in your reference stock, and probably many sources are used within any given piece of work.
For turners lacking the spark of inspiration there are many internet websites devoted to developing sources of inspiration, and to flexing you inspiration muscles. A google search should result in a long, long list. Another option is to read widely in other craft and art areas, use your eyes (and camera to record what they see), and look closer at objects which appeal to you to ascertain what it is you like about them, and use what you find in your work. A diary of inspirations, ideas, snippets Etc. is a good idea, and will bolster you when you have those days where inspiration seems as far away as a just society.
But despite all this proposed effort, you will still have days when all you think to turn is a light pull. And sometimes even then you won’t be able to decide upon a shape!