Exhibitions and Events
27 February – 1 March 2020
Somerset House, London.
Collect is the most exciting gallery presented show of international contemporary craft held in the UK each year. For Angus it is a unique opportunity to challenge himself in design, material and technique. For Collect 2020 he is presenting the Sutherland Chair and Sutherland Cabinet inspired by Scottish vernacular furniture, the dramatic landscape of Sutherland and rituals around whisky drinking.
Angus is part of the Craft Scotland showcase along with seven exceptional makers working in silver, metal, textiles, wood and ceramics. To read more visit the Craft Scotland website here.
Collect is organised by the British Crafts Council, bringing together galleries presenting museum quality contemporary craft and design from over 25 nations. For more about Collect see here.
The Sutherland Collection is inspired by place, function and pushing the boundaries of his craft practise.
We love the dramatic landscape and cultural heritage of Sutherland and spent time walking in the North West Scotland Geopark last year. The landscape is the result of a unique geology that reveals what Robert Macfarlane calls deep-time. The dramatic sandstone island mountains (like Suilven above) have tops of hard weather resistant Cambrian Quartsite which have resisted erosion by glaciers whilst the surrounding sandstone has been eroded away during ice ages. The Torridon sandstone was formed from river sediment one billion years ago when simple life first began. Evidence of that life is found as fossils, in the sandstone.
Other rocks in the area are even older. Lewisian Gneiss rock was formed 3 billion years ago and as the earth was formed 4.5 billion years ago these are amongst the oldest rocks on earth. The Gneiss rock started as molten lava which was later thrust deep into the earth where it melted again and metamorphosed into the hard Gneiss. Incredible forces have moved this rock back to the surface where it has resisted the erosion by glaciers which swept away most of the softer rock.
The study of geology in the area has helped understand the formation of the earth’s physical landscape over billions of years. Super-continents and vast mountain ranges form, drift apart and erode away. Torridon sandstone started south of the equator became mountains higher than the Himalaya’s, then drifted apart into Norway, North America, Ireland and North-West Scotland to be eroded by ice ages.
Trees, animals and people only appeared in North West Scotland in the last 10,000 years. The Vikings appeared in Sutherland around 1,300 years impacting language, design and culture in the area. We saw evidence of this when when visiting ‘Am Fasgadh’ last year. We were granted privileged access to this remarkable collection, of over 10,000 items relating to highland life between 1700 to 1950’s. We visited with our friend and furniture historian David Jones, previously lecturer in Scottish vernacular furniture at St Andrew’s university. Angus liked a chair with a parallel back rail, finely spoke shaved spindles and a shaped seat. David knew that the chair came from North West Scotland and the design could be traced back to the Vikings. Other chairs from Sutherland, were very simply made for croft houses, using collected, naturally bent sticks. Other chairs of interest included Bible Chairs with little built in cupboards and shelves. The collection at Am Fasgadh has all sorts of objects used for preparing food (eg milk churns below right), tools for farming, for making textiles and clothing.
How inspiration effects a design is a nebulous thing, but expect to see a monumental chair which evokes a glaciated landscape with island mountains, but also has a comfortable shaped seat, folding shelves and storage.
The collection is made in local Scottish wood. Vernacular furniture makers in the past used local materials out of necessity but we use it to be sustainable. Thinning our over-crowded woodland improves the woodland, and by using Scottish hardwoods we help create a demand so that each precious tree can continue to lock in it’s carbon even when felled, as it will be milled and prepared for furniture making rather than firewood.
The Sutherland Drinks Cabinet has a lift off tray in oak and laburnum. The laburnum was an ornamental tree in an Aberfeldy garden which was gifted to the workshop after it had to be felled. After many years of drying we have cross cut the branches into laburnum oysters. The contrasting dark heart wood has a lighter edge and sometimes used to provide an attractive surface pattern in fancy furniture of the 19th C. We have added a contemporary twist by laser cutting the oysters into a tessellated pattern, then selected, matched and patched to produce a swirling pattern on both sides of the tray. The handles are bent oak.
The cabinet itself is made using our signature slats and beads method of constructing elliptical cabinets. The slats are characterful pippy oak and the beads and structure are in darker fumed oak. When oak is exposed to ammonia fumes the tannin reacts and makes the wood darker – this is very different to a surface stain. The handles are turned laburnum wood. This is very attractive but also a little joke as the whole laburnum tree is poisonous if ingested. The cabinet opens into an unexpectedly light interior with a skeletal framework, glass shelves, mirrors and lights.
In the 19th C a different species of laburnum was available (Laburnum alpinum) and this very dark wood was used in fine furniture making and for bagpipe drones. It was replaced with imported African Blackwoods and now seems impossible to find. If anyone has some Laburnum alpinum that we can use please let us know!
This year for the first time Collect will be in Somerset House. An iconic neo-classical building on the River Thames and now a vibrant arts centre. We had several years presenting work in the Origin pavilion in the courtyard and we have previously exhibited in one of the beautiful rooms with Crafted: Makers of the Exceptional.
To buy tickets Collect 2020 please go to
If you are planning to visit please get in touch.
Our studio-workshop is open during Perthshire Open Studios. Everyone is very welcome so do please drop in if you can.
We are open 9 – 5 every day.
We were founded members of Perthshire Open Studios and this is the ninth year of the event. There are many wonderful artists and makers in our local area. The image shows our oak woodland within the wider setting of Upper Tay valley with its conifer plantations. We have various pieces of furniture for sale made in this lovely dark brown oak.
Visit the Perthshire Open Studios website for lists of artists, routes and maps.
Hope to see you soon.
We were delighted to have a team from BBC Scotland filming for LOOP at the workshop and woodland last week.
Loop was screened at 11.30pm on 5th September and is now available on BBC i-Player
Loop is a Scottish arts and culture programme and this episode features artist and presenter Lachlan Goudie talking about his father Alexander Goudie’s collection of paintings and design for a cross channel ferry. Goudie is interspersed with various short stories of Scottish culture.
We are the last story and the last 5 mins. There are scenes of our collectively owned woodland and Angus talking about selecting trees for fine furniture making (and the positive impact this has on the remaining trees and bio-diversity). Followed by scenes in the workshop showing steam-bending, steam-twisting and turning on a lathe.
The Scottish Gallery, Dundas Street, Edinburgh
03 April – 27 April 2019
We are delighted to be part of this group showcase of artists
who primarily use wood to make beautiful, sensitive and expressive work. Including examples of bespoke furniture, sculptural vessels, boxes, traditional basket weaving and metalwork.
For more details about the show visit The Scottish Gallery website
For more about Angus at The Scottish Gallery see here.
There is a Special Event on Saturday 13th April at 11-12, when Hugo Burge from Marchmont House will discuss the work, and show a film about, traditional turned wood chair maker Lawrence Neal. Angus will also be in attendance and our film Acorns to Art will be shown.
Press – to read the article about the exhibition in The Herald please visit here.
Angus Ross is exhibiting with Craft Scotland
at Gallery 3.3, Saatchi Gallery, London SW3
Thursday 28 February – Sunday 3 March
Angus make things because he finds the process immensely satisfying.
However when making a speculative one off piece for Collect it is special as there is a much more freedom and a looser process than with the commissioned work. Angus calls this “sketching with wood”.
Our workshop and woodland are on the banks of the River Tay and rivers are a great source of inspiration. Historically and psychologically rivers connect rural places to the wider world and they have a unique energy, movement and light. For this bench Angus turned his thoughts to the River Spey – famous across the globe for whisky and salmon fishing.
Over half the distilleries in Scotland are in Speyside in the north east of the country. The river and it’s tributaries provide plentiful water required for whisky (both for the drink and for the cooling required in the process) and the surrounding fertile plains produce the barley. Speyside was also a remote area with easy access to the sea which will have made it attractive to the illicit distillers and smugglers in past centuries.
The Spey is the fastest flowing river in Scotland but is also shallow with a gravel river bed that makes it perfect for wild salmon and it is widely considered to be the best salmon fishing river in the world. The Spey cast is a particular technique used in fly fishing to allow a fly to be cast a long distance onto fast flowing water.
The Spey Bench started with the physical process of steam-bending – literally coaxing and pushing planks of steamed wood over formers to create the desired line. The elements were then traditionally jointed but this process was quite complex due to the angles involved. The form of the bench evokes the flowing river, the angle of the rod and the loops of line formed during fly casting.
Angus is interested in dynamic flowing lines and the interface between a person and a piece of furniture. When nestled on this bench the interface is keenly felt. It is also a lovely place to savour a glass of whisky.
Dr. Mhairi Maxwell, Assistant Curator at V&A Dundee has written a lovely article
Modern Alchemists at Collect 2019
“The makers in the Craft Scotland showcase at Collect 2019 are the alchemists of our time; carving, casting and creating new traditions, ideas of value and material possibilities across all disciplines. This showcase is craft and design at the boundaries and should not be missed!
Drawing on a range of different influences and fusing together very different techniques, all 15 makers represented are working to create striking new forms and materialities which deliberately defy definition, including furniture maker Angus Ross and his super-natural use of folding and steam bending……”
Read the article
Local ash (Fraxinus excelsior) was used for the bench. Angus likes to use ash as it is usually disregarded for fine furniture making – but considered an excellent firewood- hence its name. Ash is considered a plain wood aesthetically but our Scottish wood often includes a deep pinky tone referred to as olive ash. Angus finds ash to be the best wood for steam-bending.
Ash is an important woodland and non-woodland tree with an important ecological niche which is currently threatened by a fungal disease, “ash die back”, causing the loss of many trees. In a week, when the potential catastrophic loss of insects is being considered, it may be worth a moment to pause and reflect on the complexity of tree habitats.
“Ash has a unique position as it creates a nutrient-rich, rapidly degradable litter …which contributes to the high pH of the soil compared to that typical of other UK tree species. Furthermore, the ash canopy has high light penetration. Such ecological functions create ash-specific assemblages of species, both above- and below-ground, thus contributing to, and enhancing, UK biodiversity.
1,058 species are associated with ash trees: (from smallest to largest numerically): birds, mammals, bryophytes (mosses, liverworts and hornworts), fungi, vascular plants, invertebrates and lichens. These species may utilise the ash trees themselves, and/or the surrounding habitat created by ash trees. Out of the 1,058 species, 44 were ‘obligate’ ash-associated species, in that they have only been found on living or dead ash trees. These obligate species include fungi, invertebrates and lichens. Sixty-two further species were highly associated with ash, and include fungi, lichen, bryophyte and invertebrate species. The dependence of at least 106 species on the ash tree and the habitat these trees create, demonstrates the importance of the ash trees’ contribution to UK biodiversity.”
Lawrence, R. & Cheffings, C.M. (Editors) 2014. A summary of the impacts of ash dieback on UK biodiversity, including the potential for long-term monitoring and further research on management scenarios. JNCC Report No.501
What this means is that if we lose all ash trees we will lose 44 species and 62 more will be threatened. Some trees are proving resistant to disease so we are unlikely to lose all ash however they provide a similar niche to elm which was almost been wiped out. Therefore it is easy to see how insects and other species can be dramatically reduced – almost without most people noticing.
Research is in progress to understand tree diseases and how to best support small mixed woodlands and large scale forestry. In general the tree environment is improved by reducing over-crowding – this is what we do in our woodland.
Modern forestry with mixed species and mixed age of trees is more likely to increase resilience than our traditional monoculture forestry in the UK.
Evolution of Tradition Exhibition 2-5 October
Angus was invited by The Furniture Makers Company, a City of London livery company to exhibit furniture at a new exhibition at the Design Centre, Chelsea Harbour. This was their first selling exhibition of “exceptional furniture by British designers and makers” and the enormous atria of the Design Centre with it’s prestigious luxury interior design brands was a memorable location.
On 3rd October Angus gave a well attended talk about his steam bending practise explaining how he combines ancient steam bending, traditional woodwork and digital design and cutting to create his contemporary curvy furniture.
We were delighted to see our Forth Bench image used for the brochure!
Our Resilience Bench (used for our blog cover photo) has a beautiful steam-bent ash top rail.
As Angus is a great admirer of designer Thomas Heatherwick’s design through model making approach, and we were delighted to see him receive an Honorary Bespoke Guildmark for the ‘Friction Table”. Angus also met Thomas at No 10 earlier this year!
First and foremost Angus sees himself as a designer so it has been truly wonderful to be part of the new V&A Dundee, the first design museum in Scotland, which opened this weekend. We are absolutely thrilled to have our Unstable Stool feature in the Scottish Design Gallery.
This is our response to the museum after the opening evenings. At the heart of the building is a warm, welcoming, womb-like cavern and although huge it feels unexpectedly intimate and truly “a living room for Dundee” as conceived by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. Off this public core are the galleries, various nooks and crannies, teaching spaces and a dining room with long views over the bridges of Dundee and across the Firth of Tay to Fife.
Unlike many contemporary public buildings, the outside is not brought in with expanses of glass, but rather the interior is protected from the broad estuary landscape which will be welcome on a winter’s day in this East Coast Scottish city. But there is also a lightness to the building, and it appears to be floating in the water complimenting the RSS Discovery moored alongside.
Our relationship with the V&A Dundee started when Angus was invited to exhibit in the “Northern Lights” exhibition in the V&A (the Victoria and Albert Museum in London) during the 2016 London Design Festival. That celebration of contemporary Scottish design foreshadowed the opening of V&A Dundee. By September 2016 the exterior building was almost complete.
You can see a short film commissioned to accompany the Northern Lights exhibition here .
At that time we were explicitly invited into the warm and friendly V&A Dundee “family” and have felt the relationship like a gentle breeze in our back ever since. We have had the privilege of meeting Kengo Kuma and some of the remarkable people who had a dream, ten years ago, to have an international design museum on the waterfront of Dundee. They have had the tenacity to see that dream become reality.
Angus is a Design Champion for V&A Dundee.
Back in 2016 we were fortunate to hear Kengo Kuma share his past projects and thoughts on his new designs. He talked about: the importance of scale; maintaining a relationship with the landscape; humility; using local materials; transparency; social responsibility; wood; exquisite craftsmanship and simple uncluttered lines. All of this resonated well with us. He wanted the building to be a “living room for Dundee” welcoming everyone not just those used to visiting museums. Kuma speaks poetically and explained that he took inspiration from an image of Scottish cliff with striking horizontal layers, where he could see the “long relationship between the land and the sea”. This starting point was developed with the (typically Japanese) doorway through the building and the soaring boat like forms.
To coincide with the museum opening a new book has been published The History of Scottish Design book (edited by Philip Long, Director of V&A Dundee and Joanna Norman of Victoria and Albert Museum and Curator of Scottish Design gallery) by Thames and Hudson and the V&A. With the inclusion of a wonderful piece about Angus by Tara Wainwright and a prominent image of our Forth Bench the gentle breeze of support felt like an uplifting wave.
If you plan to visit the museum arrive by train if possible as the station is literally across the road from the museum. There are hotels on the doorstep and it’s a very short walk into the city centre. To find out more visit the V&A Dundee website.
When we made our ash Unstable Stool for the Scottish Design gallery we made a Special Edition (engraved and numbered) of eight. These have sold out but the Unstable Stool can be ordered and we make it in oak or ash.
26th – 27th May
Our workshop in Aberfeldy, Perthshire will be open 10 – 5 both days.
To join the afternoon tours of the woodland please BOOK IN ADVANCE HERE.
Old Castle Wood is a privately owned beautiful mixed woodland near Aberfeldy. In late spring it has a wonderful under-storey of bluebells and wild flowers. Angus and Lorna Ross are part of a group of ten owners and for the past twelve years the woodland has been lightly managed to: improve access for the public; thin over crowded oak trees by selective felling; and control invasive and non-native plants and trees.
For more information and to join the woodland tours please BOOK IN ADVANCE HERE.
Tours start at our workshop at 2pm and will finish around 4pm.
The workshop will be open 10 – 5 Saturday and Sunday. There are examples of our furniture in the showroom and the cabinet shop will be open and you can speak to our furniture makers.
Many pieces of furniture and functional art on this website made from oak sourced from Old Castle Wood.
To read more about why we fell trees see an earlier blog post here.
For directions to our workshop please visit our contact page.
We had a lovely few days in London at the inspirational COLLECT. This is my third post about COLLECT but as it is the most prestigious event in the British Craft calendar I wanted another chance to talk about it. Here are a few of our highlights of the fair.
Rainforest (above) was-a beautiful immersive installation by Valeria Nascimento comprising thousands of white porcelain pieces http://www.valerianascimento.com
Our favourite gallery was Katie Jones presenting exquisite contemporary Japanese applied arts including: indigo dyed hemp wall hangings by Shihoko Fukumoto; mokume-gane vessels of folded and beaten precious metals by Ryuhei Sako and intricate knotted slinky like bamboo structures by Chikuunsia IV Tanabe. katiejonesjapan.com
We also love Steffen Dam’s extraordinary glass specimen collections presented by Joanna Bird Contemporary Collections joannabird.com
Our new Quercus Pods lighting vessels are on their way to COLLECT at London’s Saatchi Gallery, 22 – 25 February 2018.
“Collect brings together 40 galleries from four continents for a celebration of making, extraordinary in both scale and scope. Museum-quality works and installations from hundreds of the most talented makers in the UK, USA, South Korea, Japan, France, Norway, Italy, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden will offer visitors and collectors a multidisciplinary overview of the people, processes, materials and ideas defining international craft in 2018.”
For more information and tickets please visit
Angus will be speaking at COLLECT TALKS: featuring “leading voices from the worlds of craft, design, fashion, architecture and art and aims to inspire visitors and encourage debate.
TRADITIONS REIMAGINED. A panel of international makers and gallerists delve into how traditions from across the globe influence and enrich their practices. British Council’s Programme Manager for Design, Gian Luca Amadei is in discussion with gallerists, makers and curators, Bev Gibson, Piet Stockmans, Peter Ting and Angus Ross.Talks Space, second floor, 23 February 2018, 16:00 – 17:00
See the full programme of talks here.”
The Quercus Pods can be seen at
Scotland: Craft & Design : a collection of exquisitely crafted statement pieces from Scottish-based makers. Ground Floor, Gallery 3:4 on the right.
Craft Scotland https://www.craftscotland.org/about/projects/collect-2018/makers
Angus is making three new Quercus Pods for COLLECT. These vessels with lighting are made in Scottish oak (Quercus robur) and combine two signature techniques previously shown by Angus at Collect. Steam-bending as seen in the Forth Bench and building a curved cabinet with slats and beads of solid wood as seen in the Whisky Collectors Cabinet. This time both these techniques are combined with computer aided design added to the mix.
The oval Whisky Collectors Cabinet was constructed by slicing solid wood into narrow slats and connecting them with a bead slat (like tongue and groove) which allows the wood to expand and contract. Cabinets are usually constructed from a stable substrate such as ply which can be veneered (a thin layer of wood glued on top). Angus prefers to work in solid wood and is always pushing against the boundaries of traditional wood work practise. Creating an oval cabinet in solid wood was one test. In the Forth Bench the challenge was to steam bending a spiral from a single length of wood and then fixing it into position using hand turned spindles. It was challenging to glue this up and required lot’s of head scratching, manipulating the components on the bench and building up in stages.
The Quercus Pods are constructed from bead and slat lengths of wood which have been steam-bent into curved shapes and which are then gradually built together to form a vessel. The vessels is a bit like an orange where a sphere is made from a number of curved segments. The computer aided design (CAD) makes it possible to work out the shape of each segment to be cut from flat planes of wood, and assists with the moulds for steam-bending and drying jigs.
We were fortunate that brilliant photographer James Millar has been back in Aberfeldy to capture these images of work on the Quercus Pods. A couple of years ago James spent a month in and around Aberfeldy and some of his landscapes were gathered into a book called A Winter Journey: Aberfeldy, Glen Lyon and Perthshire in photographs. This limited book is currently available from James’s website at a Special Price – see here.
Lovely article by our friends at Homes and Interiors Scotland magazine about the craft makers going to COLLECT with Craft Scotland in February. COLLECT is the premier British craft event organised by the Crafts Council (UK). Selected galleries from across the globe present museum quality craft.
read the article link
Angus has previously exhibited at Collect,
in 2015 with Contemporary Applied Arts Gallery London when he showcased the Whisky Collectors Cabinet and the Forth Bench. COLLECT is a fantastic opportunity for makers to show new innovative, speculative work to the world’s most discerning craft collectors, curators and commentators.
images of both
22 – 25 February 2018
We are particularly looking forward to seeing;
Sarah Myerscough Gallery who specialises in wood and they will be showing John Makepeace, Gareth Neal and David Gates.
Japanpage/Craftmeet who will be presenting traditional Japanese crafts including exquisite lacquerwork by “National Living Treasure” artist Toshiaki Tateno
Ting Ying Gallery who present traditional and contemporary Blanc de Chine porcelain, being made in Dehua, Fujian Province, China, where it has been made since the Ming Dynasty. Some of the makers are fourth generation Blanc de Chine sculptors.
Ting-Ying was established in 2016 by ceramic designer Peter Ting and writer Ying Jian.
Craftscotland are showcasing makers across wide range of disciplines including glass, jewellery, textiles, ceramics, silversmithing, wood and furniture. Angus will be presenting some lighting vessels combining two craft techniques. The bead and slat detail found in the Whisky Collectors Cabinet (shown below) is developed with steam-bending and computer aided design to create gorgeous curvaceous vessels.