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By Toni Tronu
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There is something comforting about a wood turned bowl. Whether it be smooth or rugged, no two bowls are alike- each has its own beautiful complexity. Asheville artists Melissa Engler and Graeme Priddle know all about the finite characteristics of wood and have taken this traditional craft to the next level. 

The insides of their bowls are striking. It seems as though some of these trees have lived quite the interesting life! While the inside retains its natural appearance, each bowls' facade is carved with a different technique and painted with a color that radiates a fun, modern feel.

Read more about the artists below. 


What is integral to your work as an artist?

I need a story, and a cause.  It is hard for me to create without these.

What is a real life situation that inspired you?

Through dear friends that I met while working at Grovewood Gallery, I was able to visit a endangered species conservation preserve in Florida.  It is a sprawling 600 acres on a 7000 acre plantation, where some of the worlds most threatened wildlife are allowed to thrive in huge habitats.  I was already doing work inspired by these magnificent beasts, but being so close to them, and even being able to touch them in some cases, made them and their plight even more real and urgent to me.  It's hard to put these animals out of your mind when you've actually looked into their eyes.... their colors, patterns, the textures in their horns; their wildness.  All these things that are so special and now so rare, that they could disappear from the earth due to the habits of my own species, haunts me.  I guess that is part of what I make, wanting to preserve them and honor them somehow.

What was the most memorable response to your work?

It was from Graeme.  When we first met and he saw the things I make and totally understood.  We share a mutual need for stories and an absolute reverence for the natural world. 

What is your favorite or most inspirational place?

For me it's still the Canadian Rockies where I grew up.  Even though I only get the visit there occasionally, the stark, raw wildness of that place is in everything I do.

What's the best advice you've been given?

Not really advice...but a great quote from Mary Oliver, that I think about a lot.

"Attention is the beginning of devotion"



Who are you and what do you do? 

I'm Graeme Priddle. I have 26 years experience in the woodworking field, and I'm best known for my sculptural turnings/carvings reflecting my life and environments in my home country, New Zealand. I have won numerous awards for my work, which has been exhibited widely in New Zealand, UK, Japan, Taiwan, France, Germany, U.S.A and Canada. I have demonstrated and taught for numerous woodworking and woodturning schools and groups and at many woodworking events throughout the world.  I currently live and work in Asheville, NC with my partner and fellow wood sculptor, Melissa Engler.

What would you like to highlight about your pieces that are in The Shop at GreenHill?

Our pieces are made from local sustainable or salvaged woods. They are natural and food safe with Milk Paint/oil finishes.

What themes do you pursue?

I pursue appreciation and care of the environment, especially marine and forest environments. As well as a love of boats and sailing. 

Why art?

It's fun and I like making things with my hands.

What do you dislike about your work?

Office work!!!!!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Focus, don't go all over the place, develop a coherent body of work, once you're established you can start going all over the place again.

What wouldn’t you do without?




Product photography courtesy of Toni Tronu

Graeme + Melissa photo courtesy of the artists