The works included in Offerings embody Alistair’s intuitive approach to imagining and hand-crafting sculptural furniture and homewares. His process involves sketching ideas that come to him while daydreaming or listening to music, which he then spends many months refining to transform these thoughts into a physical form.
“My approach to designing is very straightforward,” Alistair explains. “I just want to make beautiful objects and the processes I use are based solely on that. I use sketches, computer renderings and scale models to help refine the forms until everything looks the way I want it to.”
The work on show at Custom Lane was produced over the past 18 months – a difficult time during which Alistair completed his Masters degree in Product Design Engineering at the Glasgow School of Art and developed all of the pieces under lockdown conditions, working mostly in his bedroom and his parents’ garage.
The first objects designed for Alistair’s degree show were the large standing lamp and two low tables, which feature hand-carved foam forms sheathed in a skin of textural jesmonite with a dark and earthy hue. Subsequently, Alistair shaped layered wood to form the Moonlight Low Table and Totem Candle Holder. The candle holder is finished in jesmonite, while the table features a smoother microcement coating.
My approach to designing is very straightforward. I just want to make beautiful objects and the processes I use are based solely on that.
The exhibition also features the Alba stool, which is constructed from West African Sapele hardwood with a cushioned seat upholstered in a soft Australian sheepskin. A series of small objects – a platter, bowl and trinket dish – were created by 3D printing forms used to create moulds for casting the objects in jesmonite, while a pair of large-scale wall hangings were produced by stippling jesmonite onto canvases and spraying pigment onto the surface from a height to create a subtle gradient effect.
Explaining the use of jesmonite and microcement for the surfaces of the objects, Alistair says: “I choose finishes that help me to replicate materials I generally can’t afford. I think of the pieces as prototypes for what I could make in the future if I could afford to use materials like limestone and bronze.”
Following his graduation, Alistair began proactively contacting every gallery he could find in Scotland, leading to his pieces featuring in a recent group exhibition at Edinburgh’s Arusha Gallery. He also approached Custom Lane, and the result is his first solo exhibition to be held in the gallery space.
“I’ve been looking forward to seeing the pieces together in one place because that’s never happened before,” Alistair adds. “The only people who had previously seen the work apart from myself were my mum, my stepdad and the photographer, so it’s great to show them to some more people.”
Offerings by Alistair Byars is on show at Custom Lane until 14 November, 2021.
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