By Natasha Anderson
Wood turner Jim Brandon, a member of Brevard’s cooperative gallery Number 7 Arts, lives in Pisgah Forest, a mountainous area known for its wide variety of native hardwoods including maple, walnut, oak and cherry. Wood sourced from those trees, most of which originate from either his property, or within a short drive/hike from his home, provide the raw material for nearly all of his work.
Two of Brandon’s recent sculptures are hand-turned from local cherry wood and supported by dyed mountain laurel bases. Their titles, Atlas: Bearing the Cosmos and Gaea: From the Earth, evoke the dramatic movement and delicate balance of each piece.
“As I was building the first one I could feel a dark struggle of weight versus balance and the Atlas title seemed natural,” says Brandon. “With the second work, I tried to evoke cherry roots growing down and into a rock-like supporting structure, so Gaea, goddess of the earth, felt appropriate.”
Although Brandon is a skilled lathe wood turner, he also tends to incorporate other media into his turned projects, including metal, milled wood, concrete, barbed wire and colored dyes. Balance is often intentionally skewed to counter the symmetry of a lathe-turned piece. Soft, smooth, sharp and harsh effects are often combined for dramatic effect. Every piece he produces is intended to be a unique and stand-alone work of fine art.
He initially turns his works on a large lathe, oriented in a manner that maintains some bark features or embedded inclusions. This is where the basic three-dimensional shapes begin.
“The hard part here is incorporating the desired shape without cutting off all the interesting stuff,” says Brandon.
Once the outer form is finalized, it is then carefully hollowed. The base and mounting method are unique features of Brandon’s work. Each sculpture is mounted in a manner that compliments and extends the form and balance of the carved piece, then colors and textures are added as needed to form the final statement.
Jim Brandon’s work can be found at Number 7 Arts, at 2 West Main Street in Brevard. Learn more at Number7Arts.org.