Katy Cottrell

Revealing the hidden ecological biographies of furniture: Intervention as a tool to conservation.

Oak wilt disease narrative depicted in its fully extended state.
Oak wilt disease narrative chairs.
Close up of the oak wilt fungal mat.

Master of Fine Arts

My project is about revealing the hidden ecological biographies of discarded and vulnerable furniture made from scarce and valuable resources. Using inlay work and modern marquetry techniques I tell the ecological biography, aiming to educate the user of the furniture that lies beneath the dark stain. Employing functional pieces of furniture such as a dining room table and chairs as canvases, the user is able to interact with the piece through visual, conceptual, tactile, multi-sensory engagement. The table provides a site for social exchange, thus encouraging conversation that may lead to efforts for conservation/education.

As a woodworker this project made me realise the stresses tree species were being put under for their valuable materials. Being design-conscious made me reflect on my own practice considering alternative species, reclaimed materials and upcycling. When I researched the possibilities of using reclaimed furniture, I became aware of their vulnerabilities and the scarcity of disease-threatened trees and the timbers they produced. As an educator, I see the importance of preservation and conservation, and through narrative and functionality hope this message can be conveyed to future generations.
Block 2 Level D