Essay by Marina Vaizey

Guy Martin’s innovative furniture is unusual for several reasons. Martin is tenaciously determined only to use very English materials – willow from Somerset and ash from Dorset. But the results are far from traditional, or conventional: rather, the look of his furniture alludes, in my view, both medieval practice – materials to hand, used as simply as possible – and to the discoveries this century implied by the word modernism, a reduction to essentials and elemental shape.

His objects – his furniture – would be equally at home in a medieval abbey or a 1990s living room; mine resides in an 1820s London terrace house. People think it is a work of art, a sculpture – then they sit, straighter than usual, yet in great and delighted ease. Guy Martin’s furniture enhances – it works functionally on two levels, somehow making us feel both more alert and more relaxed.

Trained originally as a sculptor, Guy Martin has had extensive teaching experience, and his experiences have profoundly informed his current practice. His furniture is bold, vivid, sculptural, yet concise; architectural and domestic. What is startling is the sense of ritual made tangible. What is surprising, considering the vital visual statement that his furniture – tables, chairs, rocking chairs, shelving – makes, is comfort provided. Willow is a pliable and flexible medium – his chairs embrace the human form.

Marina Vaizey
London 1987