Perpetually Ajar II (2018.2)

Catalogue Record

Collection

Maker

Title

Perpetually Ajar II

Made in

London

Date

2015-2017

Description

Wooden cabinet with multiple drawers and storing spaces.

Materials and techniques

European oak; bog oak, Bird's eye maple; Cedar of Lebannon; Douglas Fir

Informed by the photographs he took of industrial and agricultural landscapes, the maker began the work by sketching and modelling approximate forms and arrangements. Starting quite vaguely but gradually defining things until the maker worked on a full size cardboard model.

Following making a set of full size elevation drawings, rough-sawn boards were selected and marked out and then brought down to size on static machines. From this the sized components were made ready for the longer period of bench-work.

The maker left the faces of some boards directly from the bandsaw to give a characteristic texture to some panels. The carcases were made first, then the legs, and then the drawers and doors. For all, the joints were marked-up using squares, gauges, and knives; some of these had been made by the maker. Joinery was cut individually by hand using dovetail saws sharpened by the maker, and chisels. The mortices on the legs were cut on a hollow chisel morticer, and the tenons cut using a carefully set up bandsaw. The mortices on the carcases had much of the waste removed using a pillar drill. For the mortice and tenons, following this first ‘rough cut’, much work was done to fit the joints using chisels, scribing gouges, and shoulder planes. For dovetails, the maker aimed to fit first time from the saw cut. Even though a full size drawing had been worked to, much fitting of component-to-component went on without measuring throughout the whole making process.

All surfaces were hand-planed and scraped to finish.

Conventional tools are used. Traditional techniques applied but had been adapted or worked in the maker’s own way.

Dimensions

height:  117cm
width:  63cm
depth:  39cm

Object number

2018.2

Category

Credit

Purchase of the 'Perpetually Ajar II' (2015-2017) supported by a donation from Nicholas and Judith Goodison.
  • Perpetually Ajar II, David Gates, 2015-2017, Crafts Council Collection: 2018.2. Photo: Stokes Photo Ltd.

  • Perpetually Ajar II, David Gates, 2015-2017, Crafts Council Collection: 2018.2. Photo: Stokes Photo Ltd.

  • Perpetually Ajar II, David Gates, 2015-2017, Crafts Council Collection: 2018.2. Photo: Stokes Photo Ltd.

  • Perpetually Ajar II, David Gates, 2015-2017, Crafts Council Collection: 2018.2. Photo: Stokes Photo Ltd.

  • Perpetually Ajar II, David Gates, 2015-2017, Crafts Council Collection: 2018.2. Photo: Stokes Photo Ltd.

  • Perpetually Ajar II, David Gates, 2015-2017, Crafts Council Collection: 2018.2. Photo: Stokes Photo Ltd.

  • Perpetually Ajar II, David Gates, 2015-2017, Crafts Council Collection: 2018.2. Photo: Stokes Photo Ltd.

  • Perpetually Ajar II, David Gates, 2015-2017, Crafts Council Collection: 2018.2. Photo: Stokes Photo Ltd.

  • Perpetually Ajar II, David Gates, 2015-2017, Crafts Council Collection: 2018.2. Photo: Stokes Photo Ltd.

  • Perpetually Ajar II, David Gates, 2015-2017, Crafts Council Collection: 2018.2. Photo: Stokes Photo Ltd.

  • Perpetually Ajar II, David Gates, 2015-2017, Crafts Council Collection: 2018.2. Photo: Stokes Photo Ltd.

  • Perpetually Ajar II, David Gates, 2015-2017, Crafts Council Collection: 2018.2. Photo: Stokes Photo Ltd.

Maker's statement

Perpetually Ajar II falls into an ongoing series of collecting cabinets begun in late 2006. The first in the series, Silo (2007) is in the collection of Nasjonelmuseet for Kunst, Arkitectur og Design, Oslo. All of the cabinets share a relationship to architectural forms. All also share a design strategy of having more than one ‘front’, i.e. they are used on multiple elevations. Most of them have been designed and made speculatively, a few as commissions. None of them (other than the commissions) are designed with a specific use in mind. The collecting cabinets have formed the most cohesive and satisfying body of works and chains of thought in what I do as a studio furniture maker.

Perpetually Ajar was designed and made alongside another cabinet, From Greenwich to The Barrier (in a private collection) as an unmatched pair. Elements of the leg structures can be seen in the tables and desks I have made but there are perhaps deeper links to In Our Houses, a large group of quickly-made floor-standing objects begun in 2008 and the group Anon.(pts1-6) (2009). In these series I made work that were furnitural; more-or-less functionally useless yet retaining elements of furniture constructions and forms. Their indeterminacy was intended to suggest the particular...These pieces, and the collecting cabinets, have allowed me to think about the relationships between furniture, us, the spaces we and the furniture occupy, and the things that furniture contains and displays. As I mention above none are designed for specific uses but I am interested in the specific uses they will have and afford once they become used and involved in social life. To use a linguistic analogy, furniture operates simultaneously as a text and a context: they define and are defined by what they contain and the spaces they occupy.

The overall forms of the cabinet series refer to industrial and agricultural architecture and related infrastructure. There is beauty and rightness in the particular ways that silos, bunkers, jetties, conveyors, and storage tanks are put together; structurally and compositionally. In a parallel way, although the cabinets are made with craft processes, they are appropriate and expedient processes when making a one-of-kind piece: the craft processes are not present for their own sake, as excess or to exhibit skill. It is simply the case, for example, that through dovetails and slips are still arguably the best way to make a strong, long-lasting drawer.

Photographing these sites is an important part of what I do...

David Gates, 26 February 2018