Kate Hodges 

My work

I create unique and originally designed pieces of pyrography art on seasoned locally sourced wood. Each piece of wood has its own individual properties so each image created is completely unique. The design comes about by following the markings, grain, colouration and faults of the wood as I feel it is important to be honest to the nature of the wood and not to hide its history and journey. Unlike most other pyrography artists I don't sand the wood prior to working, therefore it can still be quite rough and texturised even perhaps with the original chainsaw cuts upon it. Due to this I have developed a style of building up the image using small dots and markings rather than fine drawing lines and shading.

The wood is predominantly locally sourced in East Anglia and fully seasoned making it ready to display inside the home. Every piece is finished with a UV resistant sealant to protect it from fading. Please note pyrography fades and wood bleaches in direct sunlight.


History

Pyrography literally means "writing with fire" from the Greek pur (fire) and graphos (writing). It is thought to be one of the oldest art forms and may even date back to prehistory when designs would be created using the charred remains of fires. In China pyrography was known as "Fire Needle Embroidery" and in medieval times it was known as pokerwork. One of the earliest examples of pyrography dates back to 700AD in South America where they found a small wooden cup engraved with hummingbrds.



Approach

I approach my work with the intention to let the wood dictate the design, it may take quite a while sometimes for the design to emerge and often the wood will stubbornly deny me any inspiration, however, perseverance and bravery are the key. I feel it is important to celebrate the story and journey of the wood and therefore to incorporate in the design the chainsaw marks from when the tree was felled, the water marks from when it was stored or the cracks and faults from how it has weathered. The wood is sourced from local timber merchants and wood workers and I often ask for the pieces which are unwanted, discarded or due for the fire. It brings me joy to think I have rescued and made beautiful an unloved piece of wood which then hopefully someone will own and re-home.

I also buy wooden objects from charity and secondhand shops again in order to re-purpose and recycle them into what I hope is a more aesthetic and intriguing object. My style draws on various cultural influences from Aboriginal, Maori, Celtic and Japanese designs. 

I enjoy imperfection and asymmetry, I love the ethos of the Islamic prayer mats that they are not perfect and have a flaw because life is not perfect. I am drawn to the Japanese aesthetic Wabi-sabi 'It is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent and incomplete, It is a beauty of things modest and humble. It is a beauty of things unconventional...' (from the book Wabi-sabi: For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers, by Leonard Koren)


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