About the Kilted Artisan
ceud mìle fàilte -
a hundred thousand welcomes!
Hi, I'm James (Stewart) - thanks for visiting my website! I am a green-wood artist/artisan working in the heritage crafts tradition with hand-tools and intuition (!) aiming to make work that interprets the tradition with fresh expression for a contemporary age. A born and bred Kiwi, and as you may have guessed from the pic above and website title, I'm a frequent wearer of my clan kilts (Stewart & McGregor), lover of retro vehicles, and many other things!
Beginning with elective classes in high school, I have enjoyed art and creativity, and working with wood in various ways, for most of my life. I still have the easel and art books my parents gave me as a teen! My father, who was a master builder/carpenter of the "old school", gave me a love of wood, encouraged me to try new things and to "think outside the square" in life; a useful attribute as an artisan-maker!
As an adult, I was inspired to explore heritage craftsmanship as an integrated lifestyle and philosophy by artist and writer William Morris (1834-1896) and others involved in the British Arts and Crafts movement, as well as contemporary artisan-makers in the UK, USA and NZ. So, In 1995 I left New Zealand, the land of my birth, and travelled to England, Scotland, and the United States for a six month belated OE . Part of this trip included a couple of intensive workshops with Mike Abbot, the renowned green-wood craftsman, at Clissett Wood in Herefordshire, and visits to Amish craftsmen in the American Mid-west.
On my return to Dunedin, over several years in my spare time while I pursued further educational opportunities and established my psychotherapy practice, I continued "playing" in a creative way, honing and developing some of the skills learned in the UK. Following a six month course at TLC art school in Wellington, for a number of very happy years I pursued the dream as a full time hand tool only green-wood artisan chairmaker in the wee village of Lawrence, Otago, selling my work in local and Dunedin city galleries, art groups, exhibitions, and by commission to lovely people from Northland to South Otago. For the last five years home has been the cool artsy city of Whanganui where I have recently built a studio and picked up the artisan life again.
Many other artists, friends, heritage crafts people and writers have contributed to my skill base and knowledge. You Tube has been a god-send! It's an ongoing exciting journey.
I am not interested in creating and selling large bodies of work just to make a living. I would rather craft an enjoyable life! Coming to this realization has been freeing and has changed for the better the intention that goes into the items I make. I am more about creating unique individual work, not making to a perceived demand, so if people like one of my pieces enough to buy it, then I am well pleased!