Homes & Gardens
MOVERS & SHAKERS The artistic duo behind design practice Forest + Found
Artist-makers Forest + Found
Our work has become a way of life,’ says the artist Max Bainbridge, one half of the London-based design practice Forest + Found. Set up with the mission to work with foraged materials, he founded the company in 2014 with fellow artist Abigail Booth. It was, she says, born from the need ‘to get hold of materials that were easily available, either free or low cost.’ Today, however, it forms the backbone of their artistic raison d’être.
From inside Abigail and Max’s Tardis-like studio, built at the bottom of their garden, the duo work both independently and collaboratively to conjure up pieces of exquisite, intricate yet pared-back beauty. Their approach marries the physical act of making and site-specific material experimentation with their training in sculpture and painting.
Abigail draws on traditional methods of quilting, creating stitched canvases from inexpensive calico, upon which she applies natural dyes and pigments. She makes these herself, derived from burning, grinding and precipitating raw ingredients such as wood, bone, roots and iron. Max, meanwhile, hand carves, turns, sands and burns woods, such as birch and beech foraged from nearby Epping Forest, into sensuously rotund paper-thin vessels, made all the more tactile through knotted, split and pitted imperfections.
For their most recent installation, now touring with the Jerwood Makers Open exhibition, Max explored the effects of fire by subjecting his wooden vessels to different kinds of heat, using scorching and charring techniques as actual sculpting tools. From the same firing process, Abigail extracted pine tar from a felled piece of Lebanese cedar to use as pigment for her textile hangings. ‘We basically spent three months smelling like a barbecue,’ Max laughs.
In between exhibitions, they teach at institutions such as West Dean College and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, write books and work with fashion brands such as Toast and gallerists like Sarah Myerscough and Jaggedart. Ultimately, ‘I hope the processes used in our work allow people to slow down and look closer; not to just walk past, glance and move on to the next thing,’ Abigail says. →