When I was approached by The Royal College of Surgeons to design and make a bespoke lectern as a gift for the American College of Surgeons, they were keen for the piece to have a truly Scottish, but better still a real Edinburgh connection.
I told them all about The Local Woods for Local Makers Project, and how Dutch elm diseased trees from The Meadows in Edinburgh were being given a new life in the form of beautiful hand crafted furniture. They were immediately enthused about the idea, and were very keen to have the lectern produced using timber from these magnificent trees.
I set too preparing a series of design sketches to present to the College of Surgeon’s office bearers, which were then discussed and deliberated over, which for me was an interesting experience of design by committee.
Of course the final design choice was the most complicated, but I rose to challenge, producing working drawings, a scale model and then the final table top lectern, which was flown out to Chicago and warmly received by the American College of Surgeons in celebration of their 100 year anniversary.
A year later The Royal College of Surgeons were back in touch, this time with something even more interesting. They wanted to present ‘something’ to The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of The Battle of Gallipoli, and the Anzacs.
They had no idea what it was to be and just left it in my ‘artistic’ hands??
I hadn’t a ‘Scooby doo!!’
Anyway, after much pondering, head scratching and a whole sketch book (as well as a few whiskies!) later I came up with what you might call a sculpture.
The three carved rifle butts leading into engraved scalpels at the base, represented the world war one and medical connection as well as the bowl on top symbolising a surgeon’s crucible where they would wash their instruments. The triangular base and three rifles then represented the three countries from which each college of surgeons came from, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand.
The two different timbers then completed the unifying connection, with elm from The Meadows in Edinburgh, and reclaimed Australian Jarrah wood from some very old railway sleepers.
Crests from both colleges were engraved onto boxwood medallions and set into the base, along with an engraved silver dedication plaque.
It didn’t stop there, as only just recently I delivered to the college of surgeons a wooden Quaich to be given to The Hong Kong College of Surgeons to commemorate their 25th anniversary.
This again required a symbolic connection, which took the form of the bowl being made from four ying yang shapes, contrasting burr elm with straight grain elm, and tear drop handles bearing the crest of both colleges.
All the gifts were accompanied by a book of provenance which explained and illustrated the whole Local woods project, demonstrating the entire process from standing tree to finished, hand crafted item, potentially a good advertisement to an international audience of how in Scotland we put our diseased and declining trees to good use.
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