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An interview with Pascal Oudet

Written by May Haddon | Posted on: August 18, 2015

Hi, I’m May, I’m blogging regularly for Bluecoat Display Centre featuring exhibiting artists as well as up and coming artists whom I am interested in.  My focus for this blog is woodturner and sculpture artist Pascal Oudet.

Whilst the onlooker is absorbed by the intricacy of Pascal’s wooden, sculpture creations, the techniques he uses remain as simple as they were decades ago.  Pascal refuses to give in to using technology to speed up the process- something becoming increasingly common in modern art- and by using traditional, sensitive methods to create his lace like pieces, Pascal not only preserves the History of the tree he uses but also magnifies and enhances the individual character of each tree’s life.

I find the way that Pascal turns something so robust as a tree, into such a delicate and beautiful sculpture, really interesting.  Due to the vibrant colour and shape, my favourite piece has to be ‘Life in Blue’- I love the simplicity of the shape, yet the fine detail of the paper- thin tree rings.

Below is my recent interview with Pascal, Where he gives some insight into his work and inspiration:

How do you make your work/ what materials do you use?

I am a woodturner, even though it’s just a small part of the process. I turn very thin pieces out of oak, from green wood. Then I sandblast them very carefully, to abrade all the soft fibers and create the lace effect. There are two families in my work, either I turn flat disks and let them dry and warp naturally, or I purposely turn a shape and hollow it. In both cases I choose the wood block which will give the best transparency effect. I only use oak because it is the sole wood with the appropriate structure for this type of work.

Who do you sell your work to?

I sell my pieces to collectors, home architects / interior designers, or to galleries and high end design shops worldwide.

Describe your studio

My studio is located near Grenoble, in the French Alps. I built it in an old stone barn, it’s very comfortable with plenty of light. Of course it is never big enough and there are usually a lot of pieces in progress laying everywhere. I also have a small showroom to display finished work for visitors.

What do you enjoy most about your work ?

Creating with my hands is something very rewarding. I also like revealing the history of the trees I’m working with: each tree records in the width of its rings an image of its growth conditions, and with my work on transparency, it becomes easily readable. Especially since I know for each piece where the tree is coming from and when it has been cut. So it is easy to pinpoint years of drought or rainy years, past injuries, or everything which makes each tree unique.
Who/What inspires you?

My original inspiration to sandblast wood was by looking at weathered planks on old barns, driftwood along the New Zealand beaches, or dead trunks high in the mountains where I live. Sun, rain, and frost reveal the inner structure of the materials. In my pieces, I also try to work with these characteristics on wood, playing with the grain especially through sandblasting to reveal its character.
How has your work changed over past years/ Has new technology influenced your work?

I have been making this type of work for 11 years, and I feel I start to really master it for 2 or 3 years, achieving the best lace effects, removing everything which needs to be removed but nothing more. And I still have progress to do. Across the years, I also try to come up with new shapes, and work on bigger scales. For example, 4 years ago I made 3 pieces (disks) which where around 45-50 cm (19″) in diameter, and I thought that was close to a maximum. This year, after 2 failed tentatives, I succeeded in making a piece which was 92 cm (36″). That was quite a challenge but I liked that.

Beside that, the equipment of a woodturner is pretty much the same as one century ago: a spinning block of wood, and sharp tools. And I like to say that only your imagination should limit you, not the tools nor the machines.
Do you have any future plans or upcoming events

The next two big events are Maison&Objet in Paris (early September), a professional fair dedicated to decoration. It will be followed by Révélations, a fine craft fair in the Grand Palais in Paris . That’s a big pressure and I will be showing completely new pieces. Then I participate in an exhibition in a Swiss gallery in October, and to SOFA show in Chicago in November. Plus a few pieces in exhibitions here and there. Plenty of things to keep me busy.

Check out this link to find out more about Pascal’s work:

http://www.lavieenbois.com/index.htm

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