The Sculptures of Tim Stead


Tim started to make ‘layers’ pieces in 1989, excavating shapes and forms within the wood with the band saw, leaving it as a whole, only wasting a small amount of sawdust.

‘When a tree is sawn through and through, each board is different and it reads like a massive book, revealing colours and lines which formed in the past. Suddenly they reflect light after a hundred years or more. The smell of wet sand wood fills the air, and the noise of the machines is drowned out by the monumental clarity. Brushing away the saw dust, touching the wood, which is cold and wet and solid, never fails to release a cascade of thoughts and emotions, which can never be resolved.

Making often involves the shedding of ‘waste’ to reveal the form inside. In the explorative pieces the ‘waste’ is the saw dust from cutting; they remain intact. The initial surprise is the first layer, as you explore more levels appear, as you arrange the pieces, infinite arrangements occur. As you replace the pieces, and return them to the dark, your memory and imagination take over. A free standing object in light is often remembered as one static image more like a photograph.

They are puzzles, but I prefer the word enigma – the puzzle is solved when it fits together, but the enigma still asks why and how the whole is made up of many different interlocking parts.’

-Tim Stead


Tim showed ‘segments’ for the first time in his Blainslie exhibition TOUCH WOOD in 1998.

‘I have been making the wall pieces for 3-4 years; because they are flat they are more linear. They are a way of bringing to life the sort of drawings which I have been doing for years in my endless little note books.
Natural forms and shapes have a harmony, dynamism of purpose.
From micro organisms to a whale there are similar structures which all life forms have in common. I am excited and mystified by the revelations of science and the changes that this makes to perception.
Harmony is a feeling that everything meets up and is a part of a whole and that the whole is complete, and all the billions of reflections of that whole are reassuring. If I were a scientist I would have to analyse each part. As an artist I can celebrate what feels right, and enjoy it’.

-Tim Stead


‘Excavations’ are Tim’s last sculptures.

‘These sculptures are more recent and relate closely to the ‘layers’ in that the landscape is a strong element. I feel that they are concerned with much larger scale activities, quarrying, temples, cities cut in rock. They are more visual than tactile and have a feeling of emptiness, deserted and their function lost.
They are focuses for contemplating time and space.
With all my work I seem to be continually going around the relationship of man and nature. I am an incorrigible optimist and like to celebrate the fact that man can make an input which reveals nature in an altered beauty. We are natural and represent a vast natural force of change.
Balance is everything.’

-Tim Stead