A question of taste - Tony Farrell

Tony Farrell is chairman of Cork Craft & Design who are currently hosting Cork Craft Month, running until September 4. He is also a fulltime woodturner based in Ballinora, Co Cork, making a variety of pieces from Irish-grown woods. See corkcraftanddesign.com or tonyfarrell.ie
A question of taste - Tony Farrell

Best recent book:

Letters from Iwo Jima by Kumiko Kakehashi. It’s about a cache of letters found on the island written by Japanese soldiers during its occupation.

Best recent film:

Men & Chicken. I saw it recently at the Triskel.

Best recent show/exhibition/gig you’ve seen:

‘O’, which was held during the London design festival. I was part of this exhibition and it also travelled to the National Craft Gallery in Kilkenny.

What formats do you access music? 

I mostly just buy CDs and listen to the radio.

Best piece of music you’ve been listening to lately (new or old): 

Tubular Bells 2 by Mike Oldfield.

First ever piece of music or art or film or gig that really moved you:

Picasso’s Guernica in Madrid. It was an amazing piece, both in terms of its scale and energy.

The best gig or show you’ve ever seen:

Christy Moore’s show at the Cork Opera House.

Tell us about your TV viewing:

I like watching current affairs programmes and documentaries. I don’t really follow any soaps or series.

Radio listening:

I enjoy 4FM, Lyric FM and Radio 1. Normally, when I’m in the workshop, I have the radio playing in the background.

Name three of the crafts people whose work you admire:

I really admire Julian Smyth, a ceramicist from Kinsale. I own one of his torsos. John McCarthy, who is a wood-turner from Nohoval in Co Cork also creates really unique pieces, which I love. Also, I’d have to mention Mark Keating, who is a blacksmith from Clonakilty. I’ve worked in collaboration with him in the past and admire his skill and craftsmanship.

What’s your favourite wood to work with and why?

My favourite wood is Irish olive ash, because it’s native to Ireland and has tremendous character in the grain. I also work a lot in monkey puzzle. Throughout Cork Craft Month people will get a chance to see how I create my pieces as I am inviting visitors to my workshop and gallery. Time slots are available by appointment only, but those who stop by will get a first-hand look at the materials and the creative process involved in my work.

If you had to save one tool from your workshop what would it be?

It’s not ‘irreplaceable’ but I’d have to say my chainsaw because that’s where the process begins. You start with a log and the chainsaw converts it into pieces suitable for the lathe.

Your best celebrity encounter:

Sadly I haven’t met any celebrities. If I had a choice though I think I’d like to meet Barack Obama.

Most expensive item of clothing you’ve ever bought:

A leather coat I bought for about £100 — a long time ago when £100 was a full week’s wages! Although you have to pay the money if you want quality and longevity. It’s like investing in a piece of work by a craftsperson that contains the very important ingredient of ‘time’. That’s what you’re paying for. It’s for this very reason that I encourage people to invest during Cork Craft Month.

Unsung heroes:

The Local Enterprise offices. They do so much to support emerging businesses at a community level.

You are king for a day — what’s your first decree?

I would decree that every home should possess an Irish handmade wooden bowl.

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