The Art of Collaboration

November 15, 2019

A ‘Variation of a Kissing Bench’

Installation view of 'Blindspot' exhibition by Jane Bustin at Copperfield Gallery, London. Including 'A variation of a kissing bench' by Jane Bustin and Edward Johnson.
Jane Bustin installation shot: ‘Blindspot’ exhibition. Photo courtesy Copperfield Gallery, London.

Collaboration is often at the very heart of our business and is normally established between ourselves and our private clients as we work closely with them to create their dream furniture for their homes.

On occasion we get to collaborate with other craftspeople and artists. For this project we were approached by artist Jane Bustin to jointly develop and make a Kissing Bench for her solo exhibition ‘Blindspot’ at Copperfield Gallery, London: An exhibition “combining paintings, textiles, ceramics and sculpture that questions the trust we place in our primary senses when attempting to perceive, in particular, what it is ‘to see’.”

'A variation of a kissing bench' by Jane Bustin and Edward Johnson on exhibition at Copperfield Gallery, London.
Variation of a Kissing Bench , Jane Bustin and Edward Johnson. Photo courtesy Copperfield Gallery, London.

The design is similar to a traditional kissing bench but is designed to allow only a small overlap between the back of the chairs, limiting the viewpoint and connection of the sitters. However, with the turn of a cheek the opposing sitters would meet. The piece subtly skews the very function of the Kissing Bench concept, being an intimate and shared space, to that of a socially awkward space, perhaps a nod to a no man’s land! The underside of the seats and the inside edges are painted in Vermilion red that adds a reflective glow simultaneously warm and alarming. Unusually, for Edward, the piece doesn’t contain any curves, however, from a technical point of view the rigidity and simplicity of the structure contrasts with the complex interlocking hand-cut dovetail joints.

Hand-cutting dovetails joints and bench components laid out in the workshop
Hand-cutting dovetails joints and bench components laid out in the workshop.

The bench offers a practical use and familiar position for viewing paintings, resting or listening to bird-song (an installation piece in the exhibition ‘Woodsong’ utilises a BBC sound recording of Nightingales from May 1942, where a few minutes in, the recording is disturbed by the unexpected drones of 197 British RAF bombers) whilst at the same time evoking uncomfortable truths between humanity, territory and the land.

Detail of dovetail joints and kissing bench constructed in workshop prior to painting.
Detail of dovetail joints and kissing bench constructed in workshop prior to painting.

The choice of wood was a very conscious decision. The bench is made from ash, a traditional natural wood of Europe and Great Britain which is now threatened with extinction due to ash dieback disease, caused by a fungal infestation.

Installation view of 'Blindspot' exhibition by Jane Bustin at Copperfield Gallery, London. Including 'A variation of a kissing bench' by Jane Bustin and Edward Johnson.
‘Blindspot’ exhibition by Jane Busin. Photo courtesy Copperfield Gallery, London.

It was a pleasure to work on this piece with Jane, who also collaborated with writers Tracy Chevalier and John Hull to produce this exhibition.

Blindspot: Jane Bustin
Copperfield Gallery, 6 Copperfield Street, London SE1 0EP

The exhibition runs from 13 November – 20 December 2019 | Weds – Sat 12 – 6pm | Free admission

www.copperfieldgallery.com

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