We have raised enough to buy The Steading


From having virtually nothing in November 2020 we have now raised over £500,000 which allows us to purchase The Steading. Once the sale is completed we will also become caretakers of Tim’s legacy – his archive and collection of work.

What now?
First, we need to carry out some critical repairs. Then our major task begins. Whilst keeping the welcoming family home atmosphere that makes the house so charming, we want to transform The Steading into a creative hub where people from all walks of life will be inspired to think and work differently.


Doors Open Days 2021

This autumn, for the first time, The Steading is participating in Doors Open Days, with small tours of the building led by Maggy Stead on the weekend of 4th and …

Leaping over hurdles

Thanks to hundreds of new supporters we have now leaped over our first hurdle and raised enough money to be able to buy The Steading from Maggy. The response has …

The home stretch

We are very excited that, all of a sudden, we received enough substantial donations to be able to launch our crowd-funder. It is extraordinary that in less than two months …

A brilliant end to 2020

How wonderful to end this year on an upbeat note. Despite our setback in the autumn, we are thrilled that The Steading has inspired so much, and such generous, support. …

About Tim Stead

Tim Stead made furniture for galleries, castles, cathedrals and even for Pope John Paul II for his visit to Murrayfield in 1981, yet it was the open intuitive, untutored response of ordinary people that most nourished him. People delighted in his work’s warm honesty and wanted to live with it. Three of his most powerful pieces relate to architecture. The rood screen and furniture for the North Sea Oil Industries Memorial Chapel in Aberdeen, was commissioned in 1989. The initial letters of the woods used in the chair backs spell out the simple but poignant “We remember yew”.For the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow, opened in 1996, Stead made Peephole, an extraordinary tiny space from which one could spy into the gallery below. This cave, whale belly, tomb or hidey hole has a mysterious, unnerving effect on the receptive occupant.

For the Millennium Clock Tower in the Royal Museum, Edinburgh, Stead collaborated with Edouard Bersudsky of Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre, Annica Sandström of Lindean Mill Glass, and Jurgen Tübbecke, of Peebles. Its hourly eruption of movement, sound and magic has proved an exciting and hugely popular event.

Born in Helsby, Cheshire, the youngest of four brothers, Stead was a natural anarchist and a sociable loner. Rebellious at boarding school, The Leys in Cambridge, he achieved first-class honours in fine art at Trent Polytechnic through a clarity of vision and a passionate dedication to unfashionably palpable, narrative work. There Stead discovered wood with the unstinting support of technician Frank Lindlay. In 1975, Stead did postgraduate work at the School of Art in Glasgow, where he met his life partner, Maggy Lenert, a student from Luxembourg, the day before she was about to leave Scotland.

Although Stead’s early years in Scotland were single-mindedly devoted to furniture, it was “sculpture in disguise”. Through respect for the environment he committed himself to native timbers, specialising in elm so heavily burred that other furniture makers rejected it. Inevitably, the work spawned a host of borrowers from, and imitators of, his style: yet Stead’s work is unmistakable: quality will out.

He read widely: genetics, cosmology, archaeology, poetry. Complementing this was his easy way with people, liberally laced with humour but masked a little by shyness and a disdain of small talk.

Following his 1993 Botanic Ash exhibition in Edinburgh, illness increasingly denied him heavy work. Sidestepping, Stead was instrumental in founding the Woodschool in Monteviot, where skilled graduates could learn to design around timber in a sympathetic environment.

Stead extended his exploration of the world through digital photography – the immediacy of which suited his impatience with process and bureaucracy – which he was assembling into a book, with his own prose poems.

Stead paid back some hundred fold his depletion of tree stocks by replanting and founding Borders Community Woodlands. In recognition of his work for the millennium forest of Scotland Tim was awarded an MBE in the New Year honours.

Stead’s life and work manifested an integration that defies division: furniture, sculpture, photographs, poems, late nights around the dining-table, each were part of the same life that he grabbed with both hands, wringing out its very essence.

© Alex Fraser