"I look for pieces of wood full of character with knots, irregular growth patterns, tears, breaks and interesting details. With the fundamental structure of a piece of wood in mind I am then guided by the raw material and my emotions to bring out its beauty."
Ernst Gamperl is a self-taught artist and master craftsman who, over many years, has achieved an extraordinary understanding of wood. This has allowed him create beautiful, organic vessel forms primarily in oak, but also in other materials such as ash, maple and beech.
Turning wood when it is wet, he takes his cue for the final shape of the vessel from the natural characteristics of his material. Working the wood at the lathe, he allows it to bulge, warp and crack during the drying process. To hold the cracks and fissures together he uses wooden and wire staples, which are used to great effect and add further interest to each piece. Gamperl observes the distinctive qualities of the wood; the grain, colour, grooves, knots and burrs and enhances their beauty with surface treatment. He waxes and polishes and contrasts the smooth and shiny with the rough-hewn and scarred. Continuously developing his skills, recent work sees the addition of clay powders and minerals to the surface of the form. This allows him achieve interesting tonal variations in finished pieces, while a focus on hollowing has seen the creation of objects with smaller openings.
However, while Gamperl’s work is technically ambitious, his dialogue with, and connection to, the material is paramount and has become increasingly important in the creation of these understated, contemporary and intriguing vessel forms that have surface qualities that accentuate the intrinsic beauty of wood to great effect.
Ernst Gamperl has won multiple awards for his sculptures. His work is in museum collections worldwide, this includes The Museum of Arts and Crafts, Hamburg; The International Design Museum/Neue Sammlung, Germany; Collection Issey Miyake, Japan; The National Foundation for Contemporary Art, Paris and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Gamperl lives and works in Northern Italy.