Oliver apprenticed as a traditional boatbuilder, which is where he developed his affinity for the properties and potential manipulations of wood. He honed his skills as a joiner, designing and making furniture using British timber, locally sourced from individuals and small scale mills to ensure rigorous understanding of the material’s provenance.
A move from the south of England up to the northernmost tip of the Scottish Highlands at Durness precipitated a shift in Oliver’s work. The elemental wildness of the Sutherland coastline has made its mark in a shift towards sculptural objects. Monolithic stones found on nearby beaches are combined with wooden elements, carefully hewn and finished, to create totemic sculptures and low tables that feel Neolithic and otherworldly.
“My work is focused around co-creation with nature and the timber I choose to use,” Oliver says. “I feel genuinely fortunate to be working with what I deem to be a precious resource. I hope the pieces I create pay homage to the living tree and invoke thought regarding our human-nature relationship.”
What value does craft have in daily life?
Craftsmanship is something that I can't imagine living without. It has formed my life. It is never finished - you are always refining, developing and learning a new skill; understanding how to effectively use a new tool or integrating different materials.
The ability to stay disciplined to a particular craft over many years has been deeply fulfilling and essential for allowing me to bring into reality what I have in my heart and mind that I want to express and create. Starting my career in a traditional woodworking apprenticeship gave me the values and the grounding that has allowed the expression of my sculptures today, blurring the lines of artistry and craftsmanship.
What does Scottishness mean to you?
Wilderness, wild, weather, space, stillness, strength, salt of the earth, freedom.