Louisa Waterford Prize
2022 Winner - Rob Elliot (Furniture Designer/Maker)
Furniture designer/maker Rob Elliot is the winner of the in augural Louisa Waterford Prize 2022, for his Flow Desk & Chair.
About the Winner
Furniture maker Rob Elliot, from Selkirk in the Scottish Borders is the first-ever winner of the Louisa Waterford Prize. His stunning Flow Desk and Chair installation, was unanimously selected for the 2022 Prize by the judges: Dr Peter Burnum from The Guild of St George (founder of The Ruskin Prize); Kate Mason, CEO of The Big Draw ( founded by The Guild); Harriet Joicey (chair of Lady Waterford Hall Trust) and Vicky Smith-Lacey, the Hall's curator.
Rob, from Selkirk in the Scottish Borders, takes his inspiration from the flowing grain and forms of the local elm. He only uses trees that have died naturally, preserving their beauty through his hand-crafted furniture, giving them a new beginning, where they will go on to be admired and appreciated for many more years without loss to the environment where they came from.
The recent storms, which destroyed so many trees in the area, makes his work all the more poignant.
Rob has been around timber his whole life. As a boy he spent hours making things from wood in the carpenter’s shop of his father’s sawmill. After leaving school he entered the family business, where he learned more about the various species of native hardwoods.
“While watching them being processed and admiring their grain, it struck me that it was a shame to see this beautiful material being cut up for such basic uses as boards and fence posts. It was at that point that I had the idea about creating furniture that would best show the natural shapes and forms of the wood.”
He has been making furniture since 1989, specialising in elm, building up a portfolio of striking pieces.
Rob was awarded the prize worth £500, which included £350 cash, supported by The Guild of St George, Ford and Etal Estates and The Tin Shed.
"His beautifully crafted piece is a fitting winner of this inaugural Prize", says Lesley McNish, founder of the Louisa Waterford Prize and owner of The Tin Shed.
"Louisa Waterford herself an artist, was good friends with many leading lights in the emerging arts and crafts movement of the time. It was something she clearly championed. You only have to look around the village she created at Ford in Northumberland to see the ornate, beautiful work of the architects, sculptors, and designers she brought in to work alongside her."
"It's as if they all used this model village as a shop window for their skills. It must have been even more unusual and unexpected back then in this fairly wild corner of Northumberland, than it still is today.
"She was a great believer in developing sustainability between people, craft and nature. I think she would have loved Rob's work and his business ethos."
See more of Rob's work at www.robelliotfurniture.com
Louisa Waterford Prize
Here's a glimpse at the 24 finalists and their response to our theme after what's been a difficult two years for many.
Some the images have been cropped to fit our gallery, but you can click on each image to fully see it
The finalists' submissions were exhibited in a special three-day exhibition at Lady Waterford Hall at Ford Village in Northumberland.
We'd just like to say a huge thank you to all the wonderful artists, makers and designers and to the judges who joined us.
Flow Desk & Chair - Hand-Carved Scottish Elm His inspiration comes from his love for these trees - to extend their "life" in a different way.
Lascaux Horse Glass Vase. Inspiration for both pieces came from Palaeolithic cave paintings found at Lascaux in France - possibly the first form of communication leading to a spoken language and the beginning of art as a form.
Lascaux Saber-Tooth Glass Vase
New Beginnings - The Causeway (monoprint) Inspiration comes from the ebb and flow of the tide, influenced by the moon, nature's beauty and its abilities to restore and begin again.
Open the Curtains (watercolour on black paper) Sam celebrates the feeling of breaking through the darkness, when the view of a new day, is a new beginning and makes everything feel so much better.
The Blue Egg (acrylic on black paper) This simple, single egg, with treasure-like quality highlights how nature continues to evolve around us no matter what.
Autumn Devine (acrylic on canvas) Country morning walks during lockdown sparked emotions of hope and freedom, captured in this abstract landscape.
Ocean of Possibilities (charcoal on watercolour paper) Reflects the energised and strong feeling when sea swimming - embraced by many to cope with anxiety and celebrate life during the pandemic.
Permanence and Fragility - A Conversation with Nature (mixed media monoprint/etching) Inspiration came from the devastation caused by Storm Arwen. The paradox of permanence and of fighting with nature.
Fourth Movement - The Rook's Lament (fused glass and reclaimed wood) This and Rhythm Tree are companion pieces representing glass artist, Karen's "Dialogue with Nature". This curved glass "ghost" tree is movements 1 and 2. The rook is lamenting the loss of this fallen tree and the clear glass sculpture is its ghost.
Fourth Movement - Rhythm Tree (movements 3 & 4) Curved fused glass panel with walnut. Inspired by her love of music, particularly playing the piano, glass artist Karen celebrates the spiritual creation of a piano, which is also the new beginning of the tree used to make it.
Sunrise Over Ingram Valley - Oil on Pastel Inspired by the sunrise, which Sarah says is a reminder to us all, that every day is a new beginning when we start all over again.
Sunflowers in a Dark Garden (acrylic) The bright sunflowers "shining" in her dark garden gave Alison hope at a time she was struggling to find any enthusiasm during the pandemic. Seeing nature's beauty and resilience, helped her fine her creativity and inspiration again.
Pink Flowers in the Middle (acrylic on canvas) Alison's brightly coloured floral piece gave her great comfort in being able to record the beauty of nature and new beginnings at a time during the pandemic, which at first crushed her spirit and caused her to struggle to find any enthusiasm for creativity.
The Secret of Spring (Acrylic on Board) Exploring boundaries both real and imagined, this reflects the artist's love of the natural world, of growth and transformation, along with a pre-occupation with the ephemeral quality of life as she explores being part of a kaleidoscopic universe.
Renewal - When Spring Comes I will send you Tulips (from Amsterdam) Margaret, a milliner, was inspired to create this hand-painted and hand-dyed silk headpiece by the nature of Nature itself. How no matter the ebb and flow of life, nature rejuvenates itself every Spring. For Margaret, tulips signify Spring.
Rebirth - Snowdrops in the Forest (watercolour) Inspiration - the fragility of the snowdrop symbolises renewal and strength. New, perfect regrowth against all the odds. It heralds a new beginning, a new year.
Discovery (watercolour) Hidden low amongst the spring blossom is the gift of new life. A perfectly formed nest, housing blackbird eggs. A secret, safe haven, momentarily captured.
Yin Yang Table Hand-carved Scottish Elm
Awakening (acrylics) Deryck spotted this clump of snowdrops, beneath a wind-felled tree, lit up by a ray of sunshine on a cold dark day. "These wonders of nature, herald the coming of spring and filled me with hope".
Forest Edge (oil painting on wood) Shankar, was inspired by how nature seems to be responding to any restrictions humans may impose on it. Here the solid fence seems feeble to the encroaching forest.
Dunstanburgh Castle (oil on canvas) Inspired by the imposing castle ruins, Shankar, then considered the massive rock formation it was built on and how that had remained unchanged for millions of years, and would continue to, as the castle crumbles away.
A Patchwork of Memories (stoneware, slab-built, textured vase) Inspiration for ceramicist Anne comes from her garden and the rural view from it This vase captures her love of that, made with her favourite stamps and tools, capturing many memories. Made in her new studio, built during lockdown, it symbolises a new start for life and her business.
With Every Ending is a New Beginning (acrylic on board) Inspiration to paint this simple, but beautiful seeded dandelion came during the pandemic. It was a reminder how natures continues no matter what and as one thing ends, new things begin.
The Rigg (water-based oils) Albert was inspired to begin painting again after many years, following this post-lockdown trip to Castle Rigg in Cumbria. In that moment he felt reconnected to nature and his surroundings and wondered about the history of the site, and all that had gone before.
Autumn Trees (water-based oils) This was another of Albert's post lockdown outings, this time to Aviemore in Scotland, which led him to pick up his paint brushes again. He'd stopped due to arthritis, but seeing the sunlight on this copse, started a whole new beginning and outlook on life for him.
Ostara Tiara Jewellery designer Sarah took her inspiration from beautiful purple crocuses and snowdrops appearing through the frosted earth. She recreated this image using real gemstones and twisted golden wire for her organic, sculptural tiara, named after the goddess of Spring, whose name also means Easter.
On the Nest - acrylics on canvas This view of a Northumberland lake after lockdowns were lifted, inspired Natasha to think about new beginnings and how important nature is. This was her dialogue with it that special day.
Build Yourself a Garden (embroidery and ink on patchwork fabric) Created during lockdown as an escape from her negative surroundings. It reflects a yearning to be with nature again and the strange mental space she was in, when looked out to a world she couldn't, in that moment, be in.
Sugar Sands (watercolour, charcoal, pastel and ink) This Northumberland seascape captures the start of a cold but sunlit day in March, heralding the start of Spring and a new year ahead.
Upstream at the River Till (watercolour with charcoal, pencil and acrylic) Lotty was inspired to paint this part of the salmons' difficult annual journey home to spawn, which for her, always signifies the start of something new and the power of nature.
Folly, Fascination and Fruition Head-piece created with peacock feather and hand-dyed silk. A post-lockdown trip to a forest to plan a photoshoot for her millinery business led to finding a dead peacock. After getting permission from the landowner, Alison was able to use the bird's feathers for this sculptural piece, capturing their ever-lasting, natural beauty.
Botanica Lumens - Impressed Porcelain Lamps.
Bouquet - Impressed Stoneware Plaque Maggie, a ceramicist, takes much of her inspiration from her garden and the rural landscape around her home. During the recent lockdowns, her garden and where she lives became more precious to her than ever and these ceramic pieces celebrate that.