Earlier this month and before ‘social distancing’ and the Covid 19 ‘lockdown’ in this country, I had the good fortune to visit the furniture workshop of Edward Johnson. On his website he says – ‘We design and make exclusive, contemporary limited-edition and bespoke luxury furniture to provide you with quality, originality and choice.‘
Ed and I first met back in November at a ‘Pop up Exhibition’ hosted by the contemporary textile artist Polly Meynell. He was displaying examples of his beautifully crafted furniture and I was showing some of my photographs. I couldn’t help but admire Ed’s work and asked if him if it might be possible to visit his studio and photograph his team at work. I wasn’t seeking a commission, I just wanted to do it for my own enjoyment but I did offer him a set of photographs which he could use for him own publicity. He said he would be delighted and we arranged a convenient time.
He had recently been commissioned to make a dozen dining room chairs and Ed felt this would be a good subject matter for me to photograph. A date was agreed and I spent the morning discreetly releasing the shutter with the intention of capturing the essence of his craftsmanship, some of the processes involved, the tools and materials etc. In other words a story-line about how he creates and makes such wonderful pieces of bespoke furniture.
Ed was very generous as he allowed me full access to his workshop. He said that nothing was off-limits although one or two of his team were a little camera shy. I decided to use one camera and one lens, and it didn’t take long for me to merge into the background as his cabinet makers concentrated on their work.
I love to watch true craftsmen at work as they combine great skill with precision. Using a wide variety of tools, both hand and powered, each with their own specific purpose, the attention to detail was in full evidence. Every mark and cut was carried out with such care and their passion for what they do was all too clear.
Wood is such a diverse natural material and of course no two pieces are the same. Ed wants to make the very finest furniture so where and how he sources the raw material is of the utmost importance to him, and more so to his clients who demand nothing but the best. The sheer variety of choice was clear from a panel of wood swatches in the main office. The image below is just a small selection of those he offers. There must have been 50 or 60 displayed – I regret not having counted them.
Around his premises there a few finished pieces and there is a small photo studio on the first floor to record and then market his work.
I was in my element that morning. I had never really attempted what I can only describe as documentary style photography before, although I was keen to apply my own personal style to the images you see in this entry.
Ed has very kindly said I can return and I will jump at the opportunity. Fortunately his premises are within a five minute drive of my home so I shall certainly be accepting his invitation when ‘free movement’ returns.
For now I can only thank Ed and his staff for the warm and friendly welcome I received and I very much look forward to a return visit.
I urge you to take a look at his website and see for yourself the quality and variety of work he produces.
And finally a panel of all 26 images which you can view in a new gallery.