Green Oak Bench project begins

21st February, 2017
by Julian | 2 Min Read
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A project to make a dramatic piece of natural art & design that will feature on the beautiful Sharpham Estate begins shortly.

Artist and furniture-maker Peter Lanyon will be working with 8 volunteers in March and April 2017 to create a green (unseasoned) oak bench on the Carriage Drive – the foot and cycle path that runs from Totnes to Sharpham.

“This will create an outstanding piece of art that can be used by visitors to the Sharpham Estate,” said Maya Herbolzheimer, Volunteer & Engagement Officer at the Trust.

“Sitters on the bench will be able to see wonderful views down the River Dart valley, and it will create a contemplative resting-spot on the Carriage Drive,” she added. The project is part of Discovering Sharpham – a two-year Heritage Lottery Funded project to improve access to Sharpham Estate. The project also encompasses the Trust’s 2017 Artist-in-Residence scheme.

Volunteers will work outside on the Estate with traditional wood-working tools under the expert tuition of Peter.

“We’ll be using techniques similar to the Viking longboat builders,” said Peter. “Volunteers will cleave a giant oak by hand using simple tools: froes, beetles (giant wooden sledgehammers) gluts (wooden wedges), wedges and axes.”

At the end of the 7 days the group will help install the bench, and there will be a celebration at the end of the project.

Peter Lanyon

Peter’s work brings together the skills, tools and technology of the fine furniture maker and fuses this with ancient ‘bodging’ traditions of working unseasoned timber, where nothing is straight, or predictable. 

He likes to combine green (unseasoned) wood with modern materials and furniture techniques to bring something fresh and new to the world of bespoke furniture.

He works principally with locally coppiced wood and fallen trees.  Split along the natural line of the grain, this produces fluid curves which are then shaved by hand to produce organic furniture and lighting. 

His philosophy is one of minimum intervention - imposing as little as possible on the materials, leaving the gentle curves as nature intended.   

He trained initially at Rycotewood College in Oxfordshire, and later completed an MA in Furniture Design with distinction at Bucks College, High Wycombe.

Peter runs green wood furniture courses for both adults and children, and community projects for those wishing to make something special for their local environs – his recent work can be seen in The Rotherfold square in Totnes. He is online at