PRESTON & FYLDE Magazine article 17.02.2016
Brad Quarless is a self-taught wood carver and furniture maker. He has been making beach installations and sculptures since the age of 13.
His journey started when he explored the beaches of Merseyside and the rivers of Wales. “I was always finding wood and stone that amazed me and had hidden shapes inside it,” says Brad. “As I grew up, my interest in sculpture grew and I began to paint as well as carve. At 16, I opened my first business as a muralist painting large walls for school playgrounds and animal sanctuaries across Merseyside.”
He travelled for several years where he learnt new carving skills in Asia and completed a number of projects with Aboriginals in Australia. In 2013, after exploring places in Lancashire and placing a pin well and truly in what he thinks is the best place in Lancashire, he settled in the picturesque village of Croston to work on a new theme.
“With my dog Kaymee, we walk the rivers of the area looking for interesting wood to salvage. My work takes on three parts exploring the area and finding wood to work, drying and watching the wood develop character and finally creating the work. For the last year, I have been working on a series of sculptures that have a theme of empty space. Developing sculptures from the areas where the trees are felled due to missing sections from disease or natural effects of nature. I aim to recycle and work with tree surgeons to take away what they consider waste wood and make art and functional items from chopping boards to tables and chairs and whatever the wood will allow me to form.
“Croston is the hub of two rivers, the Yarrow running though the village which meets with the River Douglas. This was what drew me to the village, as well as its historical feel, numerous pubs and close-knit community. Little did I realise it would be the centre of national news!”
On Boxing Day 2015 constant torrential heavy rain meant that the River Yarrow burst its banks and hundreds of residents were flooded.
“Whilst I wasn’t directly affected by the flooding,” added Brad, “the water came right up to my front door and it was travelling down the road at around five miles an hour. We had no electricity but at least our possessions were ok, which was more than could be said for lots of people in the village. Everyone helped each other over those few days and it certainly made me recognise what a strong community it is and how it made me feel closer to the village. I wanted to help out and put something back.
“I run a workshop in the village where I do all my carvings. I decided to donate my work that I had made from washed-up wood to boost the flood-relief efforts. The work was sold by the Croston relief fund, set up by local people to help those affected. The sculptures took about a week to make each and I’m happy for them to be used however the people running the fund see fit. It is hoped to raise more than £500 towards the Croston flood fund.
“A strong part of my work is to create sculptures that ask to be explored and touched by the viewer. This also helps to encourage awareness of its history memory through its shapes and markings in the final piece. All of my wood is from the area of Croston, Southport beaches, Arnside Knot, and the rivers of the area. I pride myself on working with clients’ needs and listening to their story before making a piece for them. The carvings I donated will certainly be remembered for a community that pulled together in need.”
Each piece of Brad’s work is unique and he is now receiving commissions from all over Lancashire and Yorkshire.
“Moving to Croston has been the best thing I have done. Not only has it provided me with new inspiration for my work, but also a new set of friends.”
Brad’s workshop is an open workshop near his home. He offers sessions to people wanting to learn to carve wood.