The continuous ongoing discussions about whether wood turning be a trade, a craft or an art form don’t seem to have a short term solution. However it is very hard not to overstep that fine line when in the presence of Steve Howland’s work.
In the eyes of the law, Brian Willshire’s work was the fruit of craftsmanship (and therefore subject to tax) until Sir Henry Moore decreed it was undoubtedly art. Steve Howland, together with other eminent artists: Malcolm Tibbetts, Larry Marley, Steve Bernstein, to mention but a few, who use wood as the material, and wood turning as the technique on which, and through which, they express their artistic creativity, are the heirs of a millenary tradition that goes back to ancient Roman and Egyptian times.
Segmented wood turning is specifically what Steve Howland does. He accurately and meticulously unites segments of different woods and glues them into rings, which in turn are stacked together and glued, and then placed in a lathe to be worked finely and beautifully into the actual works of art that Steve produces.
His vases appear almost to be made of alabaster, mother of pearl or quartz even. Spectacular textures that transcend wood and tangibility and venture into a world of voluptuousness and beatitude. Steve’s works are explosions of tactile sensuality and mysterious horizons with their typical nautical and oceanic related themes. Boats, lighthouses and fish immersed in the veining of the different types of wood, revealing the very soul of the trees from which they originated.
With apparent ease and simplicity, Howland delivers his marvellous creations to a viewer that is initially confounded by the superb artistry that lies behind common objects like vases or lamps. It is the process of trying to comprehend the nature, the hidden meaning of the emotions that surge from our senses and are inspired by Steve’s work that make these common objects works of art.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez said: “Ultimately, literature is nothing but carpentry. With both you are working with reality, a material just as hard as wood”. And what turns wood into sublime literature turns the same wood into Howland’s sublime art.
International Confederation of Art Critics