THINKING outside the box gave Brighouse student Nick Hartley the opportunity to have his work installed in the 85-acre grounds at Thorp Perrow Arboretum near Bedale.
The former Rastrick High School pupil is studying furniture-making at Leeds College of Art. His carved wooden playbox, ‘Wild Creatures’, was created for the children’s playground in the style of an animal carrier crate. It was one of four pieces, designed by students at the college, which were chosen by Sir John and Lady Ropner, owners of Thorp Perrow, to go on show.
Nick, aged 31, of James Street, said: “I enjoy the way you can start with a mucky old stack of wood and through some gentle - and not so gentle - coaxing allow it to reveal itself as a beautiful piece of furniture.
“Wild Creatures was a tongue-in-cheek take on children getting the chance to run as wild as their imaginations. It took about three weeks to make and winning the commission was a great opportunity for me.”
Nick is hoping to become a bespoke furniture maker when he finishes college. “I had worked as a chef before taking the opportunity to change my pipe dream into a career and enrol at Leeds College of Art. Winning the commission was a great opportunity for me to display a piece and I am very grateful to Sir and Lady Ropner for choosing my design.”
Sir John Ropner said: “This is the second year we have given the furniture making course a brief to design outdoor furniture for the arboretum and the designs put foward were all fantastic. The four we chose were of a very high standard.”
Other pieces were made by Craig Brown from Whitley Bay, Jason Winder from Bradford and Ollie Tonks from Staffrodshire. Course leader Richard Jones uses the unique collection of trees at Thorp Perrow to teach students more about the raw materials which make up their craft.
The Thorp Perrow estate was bought in 1927 and is now home to one of the country’s finest private collections of trees and shrubs and five national plant collections: walnut, ash, lime, laburnum and cotinus. The park now has trails for children, a lake, picnic area and play area.