Introducing Lee Borthwick…

London based, Scots born artist Lee Borthwick creates custom-made and site specific natural artworks for residential, commercial and exterior spaces.Lee studied Textile design at Grays School of Art in Aberdeen, Turku Polytechnic in Finland and received an MA in constructed textiles from the Royal College of Art in 2008.

It is Lee’s distinctive approach of combining pieces of tree and mirror that led to the creation of her signature “Mirror Tapestries” and the establishing of her studio in 2009. Alongside meticulously fabricated artworks and outdoor installations the studio has become known for the Grain and Hairy boards, an evolving collection of tactile tableware. Ethically sourced materials and a view to encapsulating a sense of peace and serenity are the principles that underpin everything that Lee creates.

Lee: In partnership with wood turner Dan Wynde, I am showcasing a new range of turned tableware in ash, sycamore and oak; a distinctive collection of pleasingly weighty bowls and platters featuring wild and vivacious patterns.
Created through pyrography, the pieces are sumptuously tactile and intriguing to the viewer, and, like the collections that have come before, each piece is unique, the perfect centrepiece for your table. The new collection will be available alongside the remaining Leopard, Hairy and Grain boards and some very rare ‘prickly pear’ boards.

Collectable, sustainable and enjoyable; to be cherished and held.

How we met?
Annie and Anna: We came across Lee’s work at a show a few years ago and was drawn to her stunning tableware. Her artistry using pyrography techniques are unique and beautiful to each piece. Each item becomes a piece art in it’s own right.

What was the trigger that got you into art?
Lee: I always thought I’d be an interior designer, I was exposed to a lot of ‘Changing Rooms’ as a young teenager and then later at school I had a work experience opportunity in the textile screen printing workshops at Heriot Watt University. That was it.

What inspires you?
Lee: Landscapes, natural formations in nature, micro architecture, literature and walking. Finland. I take the inspiration where is comes.

What about the creative process excites you the most?
Lee: My work is so labour intensive that I really look forward to the final days of completion, peeling back the protective layer on the mirror and seeing light hit my artworks for the first time or sitting down to burn designs into wood surfaces after all the laborious preparation is behind me. I also enjoy connecting and collaborating with other businesses as I move through the process, there are many stages to creating one of my pieces.

Are there any artists who have influenced you over the years?
Lee: Too many to say, I’ve always fallen for land artists such as Chris Drury and Dalziel and Scullion (Scottish duo). People like Jessica Stockholder for their experimental approach with materials and El Anatsui for the repetition. People who have a strong end vision and tolerance for the process.

How have you developed your style as an artist?
In the early days my style evolved through material experimentation and dialogue with fellow makers. I would take different materials outside into the landscape and see how they responded to nature and light. I would work with what I had to hand, a soldering iron for example to burn the first grain board. A colleague expressed interest in buying an ash blank I had and turning it into a chopping board; I deamed the surface too boring and instinctively reached for the soldering iron. The effect of burning into the wood was dramatic and suddenly I could see a pathway opening up, just as I did with the mirrors on wood. Though the two projects sit in different contexts both are derived from the same philosophy, to reveal the hidden beauty in nature.

Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
Having a bandsaw is enormously pleasing! And flexible space. We are lucky in a way to be housed in an an unloved ex factory, lots of space to expand and contract, gives you freedom to grow.

We will be in conversation with Lee on Sunday 12th May at 4pm at 93 Woodwarde Road, Dulwich, SE22 8UL as part of the Dulwich Festival. Please do come and join us.


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