John Butler - Wood Carver/Illustrator
In 2010 I opened a gallery and workshop in Bideford Pannier Market. It is enjoyable to interact with visitors while I carve. I sometimes even let them have a go!
I show my work in the gallery next door to the workshop. The two spaces combine to make an attractive unit and visitors are very welcome.
23 Butchers Row, Bideford Pannier Market.
EX39 2DR (Up the High Street and turn left.)
Normal hours, Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 3pm.
Besides showing my work in my own gallery I also exhibit at The Burton Art Gallery and Museum and The Royal West of England Academy.
I started woodcarving in a rather roundabout way. My father had been a woodcarver before World War II and I used to play with his large collection of woodcarving tools that he stored in our shed. There were examples of his work around our house, which I considered to be extremely skillful and worthy, but rather old-fashioned.
After an enjoyable art school education I worked at first as a stage designer and then on animated films such as Roobarb and Custard and Watership Down. It was at this time that my father became very ill and I took it upon myself to absorb as much of his woodcarving skills as I could. After he died I continued to carve, almost as a memorial to him. These early carvings were OK, but I was too much in his shadow. It was only when I started to draw on my own experiences as a stage designer and cartoonist that my woodcarvings started to come alive.
My middle period woodcarvings tended to be based on visual jokes, but I find that now they are based on observation. The small town in which I live is full of characters that I can transform into woodcarvings. My work has proved popular, the combinations of observations and gentle humour is something that almost everyone can identify with.