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Presenting Egeværk - Woodwork engrained with Wonder

11th November 2021

Presenting Egeværk - Woodwork engrained with Wonder
Presenting Egeværk - Woodwork engrained with Wonder

(“oak-work” in Danish) was started in 2011 by Mette Bentzen and Lasse Kristensen. Partners in life as well as in their work, Egeværk came to fruition to become their shared ‘laboratory’, a space to experiment, research and develop new expressions and techniques for working with wood. Although their name has a bias towards their shared love of oak, which has immense historical connections to where they are based, they do work with a wide variety of woods.

Above: Mette Bentzen and Lasse Kristensen

Every Egeværk piece is created from many lengthy processes yet begins with an initial ”friendly quarrel” between Bentzen and Kristensen. Inspiration from nature is first translated through joint sketching. Initial ideas are developed further through exploring the unique beauty of a given piece of wood.

Bentzen is the primary decision-maker in the beginning of the tangible process of creating the piece. Extremely knowledgeable of the characteristics of different types of wood, Bentzen makes sure that the construction of the piece supports the creative vision intended for it. Every fibre of the wood is taken into consideration before a plank is cut into smaller pieces and then carefully assembled. Kristensen does most of the hand-shaping.

Above: working on forms, shapes and ideas

Even though the process progresses in a linear fashion from inspiration to sketching, construction to hand-shaping, both makers agree that the real magic does not happen if they do not allow the wood to help shape the finished piece, for it to have its own ‘voice’. They also agree that even though they sometimes amiably quarrel in the process, they always speak nicely to the wood.

Their Flow Series are the result of the ultimate collaboration between the artists and their material. Working in unison, Bentzen and Kristensen carefully examine each piece before commencing. The final artworks are a physical manifestation of the 'flow' of ideas between themselves and their medium. Appearing to bewitch their timber, soft, fluid and twisting lines, mimic cascading silk, yet unlike elusive ideas that can escape our thoughts, these beguiling forms are held captive in their ephemeral moment, each engrained with a twinkling detail of 24ct fine gold.

In the artist's own words;

"Waves are in perpetual flow; one moment water, the next a forceful movement and a particular shape. Night flows into day and day flows into night. The tide ebbs and goes out. Plants flow through the circle of life as do human beings. Meticulous timekeeping comes up short.

The Flow sculptures are playful explorations of shapes and movements with no beginnings and no ends. Waves, clouds, the shape of tornadoes. Birds’ wings. Fleeting – yet monumental – moments of great beauty captured through wood.

The process of making them is also marked by flow. No boundaries between maker and object, making and material. A particular kind of happiness. The world as it also is. Flowalicious"

Above: shaping the wood

Kristensen and Bentzen both trained at the esteemed PP Furniture; a Danish joinery - established in 1953 - which is famous for its large portfolio of modern Danish furniture. The years at PP Furniture made Bentzen and Kristensen true experts in the renowned ‘Wegner’ pieces. The certificates of completed apprenticeship were in both cases accompanied by silver medals (the highest Danish guild honour of a craftsman; only God is eligible for gold).

After graduation, Kristensen went on to win the Danish as well as the Nordic championship in cabinetmaking; resulting in him also representing Denmark in the World Cup in Japan. In connection with the World Cup, Kristensen received the Mærsk grant and the Poul & Gurli Madsen’s grant, and the two grants were presented by Her Majesty the Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. They supported Kristensen in his travels and studies whilst in Japan at Hinoki Kogei with Tadanori Tozawa.

Bentzen chose cabinetmaking after studies at Copenhagen Art School, and left a successful career as a multi-media designer for her apprenticeship at PP Furniture. It was a three-year-long round-the-world sail that drew her to the world of fine woodwork.

Above: Lasse Kristensen 

Egeværk have exhibited extensively in Europe and the USA and have received many awards;

Joint | Honorary Grant 2021- The Peter, Ingrid and Ralph Hernoe Non-profit Foundation | Danish Design Award 2020 – Best Arts & Craft, Denmark | The Carpentry Award 2019, Denmark | Collectors’ Choice Award 2019, USA

Mette Bentzen | Guild silver medal* 

Lasse Kristensen | Guild silver medal * | Winner, DK Skills, cabinetmaker, 2006 | Nordic Skills, cabinetmaker, 2006 | Participant World Skills, cabinetmaker, 2007

(*the highest honour of the Danish guild system, only God deserves gold)

Further artworks

Above: Shaping and sanding

Above: 24ct fine gold inlay

Finished artwork | Flow Petit No 9 | Created from Wengé sourced from Africa - Congo and Cameroon - (wood, FSC* certified) with an inlay of 24ct fine gold and gold plated stainless steel foot. Signed on the base.