Spoon carver Jon Mac is part of the Ideford Arts on the Road group, who go on the road to exhibit their work in not-art venues to inspire other artists and encourage art lovers. Here’s his take on the process of going out on the road
The beauty of being a spoon carver is that my skills and the tools I use are easily portable. This gives me a wonderful opportunity to set up and work wherever I choose. I have given myself the challenge of using three simple tools of Nordic Origin: axe, knife and hook knife. These tools are all hand made by Nordic craftsmen. I have great respect for the skills used by First Nations and enjoy the fact that art and everyday objects are often one and the same. I am passionate about sharing my knowledge with others and raising people’s awareness of traditional skills. The spoons I make have been described as beautiful little pieces of art. They are also of practical use and are designed to be used, handled and held.
The Ideford Art exhibitions have given me the opportunity to show my work to a wide range of people, who may not necessarily have seen this type of work before. The exciting thing for me as an exhibitor is meeting people who come to visit us and who bring interesting questions with them. An interesting question can make me even more aware of my art. I see the exhibitions as a great opportunity for exchange with others. I have met many fascinating people who have shared their experiences and knowledge with me.
I enjoy the fact that I can show visitors simple tools and how I use them. I like to demonstrate that I carve entirely by looking at and feeling the wood; I don’t use any machinery or measuring tools. My fingers tell me when a spoon is finished. I enjoy demonstrating how the wood decides the shape, the curve, the style. I love sharing the simplicity and honesty of the process.
It takes a certain amount of courage to share your art work with the public but it really helps being part of a group. We are able to lend strength to each other. We have added another dimension by ‘going on the road’ and demonstrating how we produce our art work.
My hope is that by doing this we encourage other artists to get out and share their art work too. There are many clever people doing many clever things.