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Crafts Job Profile: Darren Appiagyei - Woodturner

We are highlighting the wealth of opportunities to build a career in craft through our Craft Journeys, a series of profiles that ask people work in the sector how they got there.

Tell us about what you do

As a Woodturner, it’s about embracing the intrinsic beauty of the wood, allowing the wood to speak for itself and enhancing the natural imperfections of the wood whether it be a knot, a crack or simply the grain of the wood. Every vessel made by me is bespoke and is more of a centrepiece; it’s an honouring of the wood. 

Woodturning is very much a therapeutic process for me; I do the majority of my turning on a union graduate lathe. My method of making is very much an organic process; when carving into woods using gouges, my making process is very much dictated by the wood, by the details that are revealed. 

What did you study?

I desperately wanted to do Resistance Materials, however it wasn’t an option for GCSE and as a result I decided to pick Art and Media, which where both courses where I could be creative. Along with these two subjects I did compulsory subjects such as Maths, English, Science and RE. 

During my GCSEs in Art, my Art teacher Ms Lowe inspired me and enabled me to develop my creativity through various mediums such as painting, using different materials and mark making techniques. This led me to do A level Art along with Media, Philosophy and English Literature. The subjects were picked on the basis of what I enjoyed in secondary school and I was very much open to learning, I did not know what I wanted to do as a career and A levels were a journey of discovery for me. 

What have the main challenges been?

Going into the unknown is one of the most difficult things I have had to deal with; through all my studies and even in my practice; it’s been a journey. The biggest challenge I have faced was when I graduated and I didn’t know exactly what the next step was. When in university or even in education you’re in a bubble, you’re shielded from reality. Once you graduate you’re in the big bad world without the support system or freedom to create that you had in education, nor do you have the machinery or expert knowledge that you get from technicians. I could only be dependent on myself and ultimately take risks to pursue my passion. 

What advice would you give to someone embarking on a career in craft?

To a young person I would advise them to be open, to be daring and experiment. Don’t be fixated on the outcome; enjoy the process of making and learning. Research is key; you’re only as good as your research. Without research nothing can be achieved and opportunities won’t arise. 

To a parent I would say: provide the tools for your child to decide whether a career in craft is right for them. For example, take them to exhibitions or even just to extra curriculum courses/events, which are craft related outside of school.