You may know that I intend to retire next March. I had thought this would mean running down the business and either donating the workshop as a community work space or selling it up completely. This is because I could not think of anyone I could trust to continue the business and keep up the high standards I strive to maintain for the courses.
However in what I can only consider a piece of complete serendipity a former colleague called into the workshop for a chat a few of months ago and left having expressed an interest in taking over the courses.
I first met Jonathan Greenwood about fifteen years ago when we both taught at Leeds College of Art, I part time he full time. At the time I recognised the quality of his teaching and of the students that graduated from his courses, so strangely Jonathan is one of the few people I would be happy to pass my courses on to.
Jonathan is currently shadowing me on various courses and will soon be teaching additional courses in the Ilkley workshop. He is currently working on a full schedule starting in March when I stop teaching.
I will let Jonathan introduce himself in his own words:
I have been making furniture for over 40 years, initially inspired by my woodwork teacher at school. After school I studied at Rycotewood College in Oxfordshire, where the emphasis was on design and on developing fine furniture making skills by hand. Being taught by designers and makers such as Hugh Scriven and Ashley Cartwright was a pivotal moment in my career; it defined my passion to make beautiful fine furniture.
I am very influenced by Arts and Crafts furniture from the Art Nouveau period, but the work of early craftsmen like Thomas Chippendale also inspires me. The main focus of my career in furniture making has been to ensure that the skills that enabled the great furniture makers to achieve such high levels of detail, precision and craftsmanship are retained.
After Rycotewood College I worked for several furniture makers in North and West Yorkshire, making individually designed pieces and also small batch produced furniture for companies such as Harrods. During this period I not only developed my skills but also became involved in training the apprentices I worked alongside. Passing on my skills and sharing my passion for furniture-making proved very rewarding, so I enrolled at Shipley College for a teaching qualification and then, in 1999, gained a job teaching furniture making at Leeds College of Art and Design(LCAD).
I spent the next 20 years at Leeds College of Art and Design and, during that period, taught a variety of courses, and students of all ages and abilities. It gave me great pleasure and satisfaction to help students acquire skills which enabled them to make beautiful furniture and often resulted in a career in furniture-making.
I first met Chris about fifteen years ago when he also taught at LCAD. Since then we have remained in touch and I have taken an interest in the development of his teaching programme. The emphasis Chris places on good design, precision and attention to detail is very much in line with my own approach to teaching, so I am very excited to now have the opportunity to develop and teach courses as part of this programme and eventually take over the running of the courses. I hope to communicate my passion for furniture making to a wide range of students, and to see them take home not only a beautiful piece of furniture, but also an enthusiasm for furniture making and the skills and confidence to design and make their own work.
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