Today is an important day for Nicholas Fuller. Having being invited to submit work for the Clarence Prize – an important furniture makers award in Tasmania, Fuller has designed, made and delivered a work that he hopes will impress the judges enough to earn him the prestigious award. Apart from the kudos that surrounds being announced as the winner of this biennial award there is also the not inconsiderable prize money of $20,000 that is awarded and the acquisition of the work into the Clarence collection. The exhibition of the work of all fifteen finalists in the prize opens today, Thursday 8th September and runs through to the 8th of October, 2017 at the Barn at Rosny Farm Arts Centre, in Hobart, Tasmania.
Design daily has been following the work of Nicholas Fuller for several years as he has progressed from young graduate to award winning designer / maker. Fuller was part of a previous post on Design daily back in July 2015 when he was part of the final selection for that year's Temple & Webster Emerging Designer Award. You can view that post here. Fuller didn't win on that occasion but received the Peoples Choice Award for his beautifully crafted furniture pieces.
Last year Fuller exhibited a range of his designs along side the work of celebrated fine furniture maker Scott Mitchell at Craft ACT's Mitchell / Fuller: Moving Forward, Looking Back. The exhibition acknowledged the debt Fuller owed to Mitchell while working as his apprentice and highlighted the similarities and differences in the work of the two men.
Fuller worked under Mitchell from 2009 to 2013 and certainly honed his skills as a maker of fine furniture during this period yet it is probably the influence of high profile Australian designer, Jon Goulder, that is most apparent in his current work. Fuller spent two years working at the Jam Factory under the mentorship of Goulder as part of the Adelaide institution's Associate programme and continues to work there as Production Manager of the Furniture Workshop. Many similar themes to Goulder come through in Fuller's work – a love of water-formed leather, the use of certain leg and arm shapes and a minimal contemporary aesthetic influenced by mid century Scandinavian design and traditional Japanese craft techniques.
For the Clarence prize Fuller took a previous idea and reworked it, refining the concept to something with a strong historical and cultural idea. Fuller ‘s screens from the Moving Forward Looking Back exhibition at Craft ACT have been transformed into a self supporting concept with a massive rock base made from meticulously carved granite. The screens are rotatable and sail like - rather than the obvious oriental look of the previous hanging screens.
The marriage of fine craftsmanship and a resolved shape is far more evident in the new offering, ‘Voyage’. What was previously a two dimensional albeit beautifully crafted idea has become a shrine to movement. The new screens reference the movement of sailing ships that plied their trade between Tasmania and the mainland during the 19th century. The screen is like a sail and sits upon a pronounced mast-like stem. The use of granite as a base material for the screens is also a reference to the past and to commercial sailing ships as granite was commonly used as a ballast material when they were returning home unladen.
“I was intrigued to design a piece that would utilise similar componentry as what is used in sailing boats and watercrafts. The woven sail like forms are interactive and can be adjusted in various space dividing configurations. These timber spigots then socket into two bearings, which are press fitted into sintered bronze and acetal sleeves. These emulate the same function as rope sheaves and accurately locate the mast. I designed the counterweights out of machined blocks of granite, which counteracts the lateral force applied to the screens. These are basically indicative of ballast stones that were used in watercraft from the mid 18th century onwards”.
The two pieces shown above are also from the Craft ACT show from 2016. The tables on the left are called 'Le Cantilever', the chair on the right 'Pelle'. Both pieces show Fuller's interesting design language with its strong emphasis on the beauty of how an object is jointed and made, while retaining a minimal aesthetic.
Below is a portrait of Nicholas Fuller and a shot of him working on one of his 'Phil' chairs.
For more on the work of Nicholas Fuller visit his website here.
The other finalists in the 2017 Clarence Prize include Andrew Carvolth, Bernard Chandley, Bryan Cush, Hugh Altschwager, Jye Edwards, Murray Antill, Nicole Monks, Sara Lindsay, Tom Fereday, Niklavs Rubenis, Berto Pandolfo, Michael Travail, Anna Freeman and James Howe.
The winner of this year's Clarence Prize will be announced today.
The exhibition held in conjunction with the prize is located at:
The Barn at Rosny Farm
Rosny Hill Road, Rosny Park, (Hobart) Tasmania 7018 (03) 6217 9607
The exhibition runs from September 8 until October 8, 2017.