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Wood Centre abuzz with first woodworking course

posted on April 29, 2016

Last Saturday we hosted our first woodworking course at the Sylva Wood Centre.  The course was organised on behalf of the Oxfordshire Natural Beekeeping Group.

Course tutor Matt Mercy uses locally-grown western red cedar and larch for his hives, so the course chimed perfectly with Sylva’s principles of using more sustainably-grown wood products.  Matt helped 14 students to make Warré hives.  These types of hives are favoured in ‘natural beekeeping’ for their high level of insulation and a ‘chimney effect’, which keeps the bees warmer than some other hive types. Also the hive boxes have shuttered window inserts which allow for non-intrusive observations of bee colony activity and health.

Oxford Natural Beekeeping Group workshop at the Sylva Wood Centre

Oxford Natural Beekeeping Group workshop at the Sylva Wood Centre, April 2016

‘Natural beekeeping’ covers a spectrum of approaches to keeping bees which encompass bee-centric, low intervention, chemical-free methodologies. This is a holistic approach that facilitates natural bee behaviours and promotes bee health through providing healthy hive environments and allowing for natural selection of robust ‘hygienic’ gene pools.

Matt Mercy, course Tutor, said:

“I was very impressed with the facilities provided and would highly recommend the Sylva Wood Centre to other tutors”.

Paul Honigmann on behalf of the Oxfordshire Natural Beekeeping Group said:

“many, many thanks for organising our course at the Sylva Wood Centre.  Everyone left happy and smiling and with something physical they’d made – and for several, the event was their first face to face meeting with other natural beekeepers – a great day for all”.

Read more on the website of the Oxfordshire Natural Beekeeping Group.


Are you a woodwork tutor? Please contact Paul Orsi if you are interested in running a woodworking course at the Sylva Wood Centre.

 

 


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Welcome to lifestyle woodworker Paul Sellers

posted on March 22, 2016
Paul Sellers lifestyle woodworker

Paul Sellers lifestyle woodworker

We are delighted to welcome Paul Sellers as our latest business at the Sylva Wood Centre.

Paul Sellers is an internationally-renowned woodworking teacher and a leading advocate for his craft, reaching many thousands of people by recording instructional videos of woodworking techniques. Although Paul has earned a living as a woodworker, he refers to himself as an ‘amateur woodworker’ because he still does it primarily for love of the craft.

Paul is currently occupying the teaching workshop in the main building at the Wood Centre but we are in discussions to build a dedicated workshop for Paul on the current site of the Grain Store.

Paul’s workshop at the Sylva Wood Centre is not open to the public but he is planning to have regular open days where visitors are welcome. The first opportunity to visit will be Artweeks (14th-22nd May). To receive notifications about subsequent open days click here.

Welcoming Paul Sellers, Sylva’s CEO Gabriel Hemery said:

“Paul’s arrival is a significant step forwards in our plans for supporting teaching and education in woodworking design and craft at the Sylva Wood Centre. It is has been wonderful see how quickly Paul and his team have settled among our community of woodworkers.

Paul Sellers commented:

“Moving to the Abingdon area has meant new beginnings for the woodworking school and our filming studio and workshop. The Sylva Foundation kindly offered workspace at the Wood Centre in Long Wittenham to set up our base, which means we have found several new friends working as artisans all in one location. I am looking forward to seeing the work Sylva is involved in and watching their plans and vision unfold. A big thank you to Gabriel Hemery and Paul Orsi of the Sylva Foundation for their hospitality and for welcoming us to the area.”

Essential Woodworking Hand Tools by Paul Sellers

Essential Woodworking Hand Tools by Paul Sellers

Paul has just released a new book Essential Woodworking Hand Tools, which was written to pass on not only his knowledge of tools but his enjoyment of them. It helps anyone to make good choices in purchasing, sharpening, and beginning to use the tools that you need to build things from wood. We are delighted to announce that Paul will be one of four authors speaking at the inaugural WoodWords™ literary evening on 14th May . Tickets are now available for this fundraising event. Read more and book online

Read more about Paul Sellers:    www.paulsellers.com


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Unit available at the Sylva Wood Centre

posted on February 25, 2016

A unit is available to rent from the Sylva Foundation by any business connected with designing or making with wood.

Tenants at the Sylva Wood Centre are part of a vibrant community of woodworkers, enjoying excellent specialist facilities. They also benefit from the growing profile of the charity, for example by taking part in annual events such as Oxfordshire Artweeks and other public events.

Unit available April 2016

Unit available April 2016

Details

  • Available from April.
  • Size of unit: 450 sq ft / 42 m2 (Dimensions: 9.6 x 4.4m)
  • Additional outdoor covered space available (optional): 500 sq ft/46 m2
  • Large roller-shutter door access to outside.
  • Access to well-equipped Machinery Workshop, including panel saw, planer, thicknesser and band saw.
  • Internal double door access to community space.
  • Access to community kitchen. Toilets and Shower.

Find out more about the Sylva Wood Centre: www.sylva.org.uk/wood

To talk through your requirements, contact Paul Orsi


Thinking of starting a new business? We support new wood-related businesses through our incubation facilities. Please contact us to find out more.

 


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Wolverhampton University students visit Arboreal building

posted on February 18, 2016
Wolverhampton University architecture students visit the Arboreal competition building

Wolverhampton University architecture students visit the Arboreal competition building

Another university group visited the Sylva Wood Centre this week to work on the third National Student Design Competition organised by TRADA, through its successful University Engagement Programme (UEP). Named Arboreal for 2016 the project will see students tasked with designing a brand new flagship timber structure named Arboreal at the Sylva Wood Centre in south Oxfordshire.

arboreal logo

TRADA 2016 Arboreal competition

They were given a tour of the Wood Centre and Sylva CEO Gabriel Hemery explained more about future plans for the whole site. The students took the opportunity to take photographs and note details of the building and its local environment.

The deadline for entries is June 3rd 2016, with a shortlist produced shortly after. There will be a final judging event in early July and an awards ceremony in autumn where the winners will be announced.

Read more about Arboreal

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University groups start Arboreal challenge

posted on February 1, 2016
Arboreal competition - Coventry University

Architectural students and tutors visit the Sylva Wood Centre to work on the Arboreal project.

arboreal logo

TRADA 2016 Arboreal competition

University groups across Britain are starting work on the third National Student Design Competition organised by TRADA, through its successful University Engagement Programme (UEP). Named Arboreal for 2016 the project will see students tasked with designing a brand new flagship timber structure named Arboreal at the Sylva Wood Centre in south Oxfordshire.

This weekend architecture technology students and tutors from Coventry University visited the Sylva Wood Centre. They spoke with Sylva CEO Gabriel Hemery to learn more about the charity’s plans for the whole site, and took the opportunity to take photographs and measurements of the building that it is the subject of the competition.

Read more about Arboreal

Category: WOOD
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Philip Koomen appointed as special advisor

posted on October 5, 2015
Philip Koomen, Sylva Foundation

Philip Koomen, Furniture and Wood Special Advisor, Sylva Foundation

Designer-maker Dr Philip Koomen has been appointed as the Sylva Foundation’s Furniture and Wood Special Advisor.

Talking about his voluntary appointment Philip Koomen commented:

“I have been involved in the work of the Sylva Foundation since advising the charity in its ground-breaking OneOak project (2009-12). Since then I have been pleased to help the foundation shape the vision and direction of its Wood programme, which came to life in 2015 with the opening of the Sylva Wood Centre. The charity’s work is in line with my own professional practice and vital if we are to foster a new generation of designer-makers using home-grown and other sustainable timbers. I am therefore really delighted to take up the role of Furniture and Wood Special Advisor.”

At the age of 22, Philip set up his first professional workshop at his parents’ home in Henley-on-Thames in 1975, having studied Furniture Design & Technology at Buckinghamshire College. He moved to his current workshop at Wheelers Barn in Checkendon, South Oxfordshire in 1984.

Philip’s vocational path was inspired by the teachings of the Baha’i Faith. He is committed to a sustainable approach to furniture design that celebrates wood and contributes to a greater understanding of our environmental responsibilities. Furthermore, he is dedicated to providing training for aspiring designer-makers; many past members have since set up their own workshops in Britain, Canada, Ireland, Sweden, Germany and Australia.

Philip and his team have produced the equivalent of over 120 years of furniture for private and institutional clients, including the stage furniture for the Hay Festival, the choir stalls for Dorchester Abbey and various overseas clients, including the international investment bank Fidelity. He has recently been commissioned by Oxford University to design and make a range of furniture for the new Blavatnik School of Government.

Philip earned a PhD in Sustainable Furniture Design from Brunel University. His doctoral research included the creation of a local cycle, sourcing and processing non-commercial timber from local estates. The resulting furniture was showcased in the touring exhibition Out of the Woods: a Sustainable Approach to Furniture Design that began at the River Rowing Museum, Henley in 2004, and “affirmed his status as one of the finest craftsmen in wood in Britain today.” BBC Homes & Antiques, 2004.

He has been awarded several fellowships, including a life fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts. In 2004 he was amongst a select group of designers invited to Buckingham Palace to celebrate the contribution of the design industry to the nation in recognition of “excellence in design”. In 2014 he was awarded a prestigious Arts Council grant to research his creative practice. The outcomes formed part of his “retrospective” exhibition, Forest to Furniture: Ideas in the Making, at the River Rowing Museum, shown this year. He also initiated and co-organised a successful symposium and public event, Ideas in the Making, on the nature of creativity at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History for over 1500 visitors.

Philip regularly exhibits, lectures and judges at design forums and academic institutions including Singapore,Thailand, Vietnam, Mexico, France, Belgium, Dubai, USA and UK.

Philip Koomen’s website: www.philipkoomen.co.uk


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Sylva Wood Centre building features in national student design competition

posted on June 25, 2015

TRADA has set a brand new challenge asking student designers to explore the science of timber as a modern construction material for a building at the Sylva Wood Centre.

Logo for the TRADA arboreal 2016 design competition

Logo for the TRADA arboreal 2016 design competition

This is the third National Student Design Competition organised by TRADA, through its successful University Engagement Programme (UEP). Named Arboreal for 2016 the project will see students tasked with designing a brand new flagship timber structure named Arboreal at the Sylva Wood Centre in south Oxfordshire.

“We are really excited about this year’s Arboreal competition,” said Elizabeth Turner, TRADA’s UEP Liaison Manager. “It brings together aspects of sustainability and modern design and asks students to create a conceptual building using timber. It’s the perfect showcase for the material.”

The design brief includes creating a new two-storey timber structure to serve as a multi-use building, housing offices, seminar space, exhibition space and a field laboratory.

In the new design students will need to reflect the ethos and vision of the charity. At the same time, they’ll need to incorporate cutting-edge materials and technologies throughout to act as inspiration to visitors and users and create a sustainable building both with the materials they propose and long term usage of the new building.

The Sylva Foundation was established in 2009 as a charity to work across Britain caring for forests to ensure they thrive for people and for nature, and supporting innovation in home-grown wood. In 2014 it opened the Sylva Wood Centre in south Oxfordshire, as a centre for innovation in home-grown wood. As part of the development of the Sylva Wood Centre the charity is in the process of converting numerous former agricultural buildings into bespoke space for wood businesses, incubation workshops for start-up businesses, an education workshop, training centre and exhibition venue.

Sylva Foundation CEO Dr Gabriel Hemery commented: “The launch of Arboreal is an exciting next step in our plans for the Sylva Wood Centre, and we couldn’t wish for a better partner in TRADA, recognised as a leading authority in wood. By working with emerging talent within Britain’s engineering and architectural schools we are confident that we will attract some excellent entries and raise the profile of wood in these sectors.”

The deadline for entries will be June 3rd 2016, with a shortlist produced shortly after. There will then be a final judging event in early July and an awards ceremony in autumn where the winners will be announced.

Lecturers and students can find out more at: www.trada.co.uk/academic/designcompetitions. A full brief is also available: download the brief here

TRADA members can get involved with the competition as supporters or as sponsors of the competition.

For further information on TRADA’s national student competition Arboreal, contact Elizabeth Turner, eturner@trada.co.uk +44(0)1494 569654.

 

 

Category: EDUCATION, WOOD
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Work benches loaned to the Sylva Wood Centre

posted on June 4, 2015
work benches loaned to the Sylva Wood Centre

work benches loaned to the Sylva Wood Centre

Our plans to support more business incubation, apprentices and work placements at the Sylva Wood Centre took a step forward this week, thanks to the generous loan of seven quality work benches.

The benches have been provided on long-term loan by Rycotewood Furniture Centre at City of Oxford College. We hope that this is the first of many linkages between Sylva and the college.

The college runs various courses in furniture making, including City and Guild diploma levels 1-3, and a BA in Furniture Design and Making (read more).

A crucial next step to support business incubation and learning at the Sylva Wood Centre is setting up a space dedicated to large woodworking machinery. It is lack of access to these that is a hindrance to business entrepreneurs and emerging talent in wood working.

We are keen to talk to possible sponsors and supporters that may be able to help us bring this to reality. Possibilities may include donation of machinery, sponsoring of apprentices, or even a chance to name the workshop in your name, or that of your business.

If you share our aim in fostering emerging woodworking talent and supporting innovation in wood, we would love to hear from you.

Contact CEO, Gabriel Hemery: development@sylva.org.uk or Tel: 01865 408018

 

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Sylva Wood Centre opens to the public

posted on May 19, 2015
Sylva Wood Centre sculpture and entrance sign

Sylva Wood Centre sculpture and entrance sign

We enjoyed a fantastic opening weekend as part of Artweeks. It was wonderful to meet so many of our new neighbours and the local community.

Until the opening of the Sylva Wood Centre, the Sylva Foundation has had a low local profile, as our work has been national in perspective. The unveiling of our sculptural entrance sign was the first time that some local people were aware of who was behind six months of building work on the old farm and its derelict buildings.

Being part of the county-wide Artweeks programme enabled us to open to the public for the first time. Visitors were able to find out more about the work of the Sylva Foundation and our future plans, and to meet our first tenants and enjoy their wonderful craft in wood.

inside the Sylva Wood Centre May2015

inside the Sylva Wood Centre during Artweeks May2015

The Sylva Wood Centre public exhibition remains open daily (9am-5pm) including bank-holiday Monday 25th May (the closing day). Members of staff from Sylva are on site everyday.

Read more about our Artweeks exhibition

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Your invitation to the Sylva Wood Centre

posted on May 15, 2015

We are opening our new Sylva Wood Centre to the public for the first time from tomorrow. The exhibition is open from 16-25 May 2015. 9am to 5pm daily.

We hope that you will come along to meet our staff, learn more about the Sylva Foundation, and meet the talented artists and makers who have made the Sylva Wood Centre their working home.

Sylva Wood Centre, Little Wittenham Road, Long Wittenhem, Oxfordshire OX14 4QT.  Find us on Google maps

Sylva Artweeks 2015 Poster

Sylva Wood Centre Artweeks 2015 Poster

 

 

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