Saying Goodbye to Sylva | Paul Sellers

Saying Goodbye to Sylva | Paul Sellers

December 16, 2019 88 By Luis Garrison


hi everybody it’s a new phase in
our life it’s a new dawn and we’re about to actually be moving on from Sylva where
we came two years ago it’s two years ago since Gabriel and I met here and
talked over what we wanted to do and we’ve accomplished a lot over the last
couple of years so I want to hand you over to Gabriel and let him
introduce some of the things that have taken place here at silver thanks Paul
well it’s been it’s been a busy couple of years isn’t it and it’s mixed emotions
today that you’re moving on but I know we’ll keep in touch and have lots that
we want to do together still so yeah let’s go take a look at what we’ve been
up to now it seems funny standing here now and
looking out over something that wasn’t here before no trees tell us a well this
wasn’t here last time this is our this is the Sylva Lodge the office for our
charity staff so we have up to seven people sort of part-time based in here
we’re very lucky has an amazing view across the what we call the future
forest so your team has sponsored a few plots in here we’ve actually got 250
families and corporates and others sponsoring and becoming our friends the
7,000 trees out here you know now right we’ve got the community orchard and a
little a pre-business producing honey and then in front of us
we’ve got the wildflower meadow which is now quite well established and also we
have the tree charter sculpture there and you’ll be talking to Simon I’m sure
about the work he’s been doing with that project and our forest education area we
have local school children 700 involved in coming and learning about trees and
getting back in connection with nature and finally on the left our latest
development on the site has been to convert to a small building it was a
pigsty and that’s housing a-another furniture
business and just through the trees you can see the forestry yard and a new
building that we had a grant for there’s housing a mobile sawmill so that’s
another business that works as a contractor through local woodlands
always through Oxfordshire that you’re bringing local timber into the site managing the
forrest locally better and obviously procuring local timber and supporting
local jobs mm-hmm that’s really remarkable when you see the symbiosis
that’s taken place between the trees and then bringing it through to a product
that ends up with craftsmen and crafts women working together in different
areas you provided that hosting environment and even hosted us for the
last couple of years which is good, it was good to have you here it’s been wonderful really
we’ve enjoyed it and I’m glad we’ve been able to do this together
hopefully we’ll be moving into other things in the future yeah I hope so
exciting times yeah yeah I’m out with Simon who I met for the
first time two years ago when he was inside the building and he was doing
some carving and it was small scale but now we’re in the big scale stuff here
yeah tell us about what you it’s just about enough to
keep the cold off we’re working on eleven of these poles this is number ten
no number eight that’s number ten we’ve got number eleven out of there they’ve
been it’s been a commissioned by from the Woodland Trust to commemorate the
launch of the new woodland Charter which was launched in the summer so each pole
has a theme and my job is to carve a figurative representation of the theme
so this one which is going to Gries dale is environment so there’s a poem that’s
written for this pole which will carve into the pole and the images on this one
are going to be changed so running up the pole will be three huge great links
and they symbolize the way trees link hold the ground down right
yeah yeah lots of water into the ground they created the sub atmosphere and the
goodness in the soil so they are the sort of chains that hold them together
so that’s how this has all worked as I said each poles been different it’s all
been a challenge they weigh a ton and a half oh wow and moving them in and out
of the workshop and around it has been one of the hardest things to learn
but it’s been brill working on something this size you know it’s so
nice from the small stuff you saw me working on before nice to have something
represents the trees in the forest and the woodlands and the way we work as
woodworkers with wood and I think it’s been wonderful being here the last
couple of years thank you for having us and supporting us in whatever way we’ve
supported one another really it’s been great it’s been good thank you well good
luck with your new venture see you again yeah
I just wanted to walk you through an area that’s outside my workshop which is
where we have the hot benches and this is where Sylva set up the ability for
people to come in for a week a few days or longer and set up and start making so
Phil is behind me here he’s making some repairs to some chairs but he’s also
making furniture Allistair’s been setting up he makes furniture he designs and makes
furniture too and there could be anything going on somebody might want to
rebuild a canoe we’ve got some of that going on and it’s ideal it’s very good
for a workshop it’s good for a training facility so so it’s quite fascinating
really to see how this is developed and provide a venue where people can come
and work on a small scale if they need to I’m here with Mary we’ve become friends
over the last couple years and when we first met two years ago we didn’t know
one another but Mary has had a pretty progressive way forward since she’s been
here at Sylva haven’t you you’re gonna tell us about it what’s happening in
your life yeah certainly so I think when we spoke two years ago I hadn’t long
been in this unit and I was starting on Commission work and I was just
experienced a kind of influx of the benefits of being in a collective space
with other tenants what’s happened for me is that I’ve been introduced to lots
of local people who’ve been interested in learning and I’ve started teaching and that’s been wonderful there’s also been a bit of a community
around Mary’s chairs where there’s lots of people collectively who want to be
involved in a more creative but also building friendship so the workshop has
become a little bit of a hub for people coming together and I also have set up
some sewing classes and for the past year I’ve been running workshops and
other venue and the development for me will be the pulling together of all
those aspects so and that kind of feeds in a little bit to your
development as well because we’re we’re moving out of our place our space in
here at Sylva because we need somewhere bigger and we need somewhere with
different sound considerations and everything so Mary is actually going to
take our space i will that’s right so I will be- she’s sorry to see us go but she’s got mixed
feelings- it’s a fabulous opportunity for me because it will
enable me to grow it’ll enable me to run all the different aspects of Mary’s
chairs under one roof I will be embarking on a new community venture
where there’ll be an open workshop that people can drop in so again trying to
foster friendships around creativity which is where my kind of heart lies so
it’s exciting 2018 I hope it’s going to be- I tell you it’s been a privilege watching your success I’m
so glad to have been a part of it in a brief way, thank you. I’m with my next-door neighbor Chris who
is a furniture maker also he makes very fine furniture and one of the things
that he’s helped me with through the years the last couple of years is he’s
milled the wood for my classes but he’s also milled some of the wood for the
projects that we make on master classes so thank you so much so the last couple
years It saved me having to resort to machine work but it’s been a great
relationship seeing you grow and seeing what you do in your workspace watching
you build wardrobes or whatever cabinets you come up with yeah it’s been a lot of
fun how is the last couple years been for you
yeah good having the open space out there means that I can do bigger and
bigger projects and build the whole lot up yeah inside a workshop then take it
down so I know it will work and go together by the time I get it to to the
client slowly working improving the machinery and the techniques in here has
has been a very satisfying process yeah it’s been a great two years getting to
know you and seeing you grow and seeing everything you do and seeing what you’re
responsible for and how you’ve changed things so thank you I hope we’ll stay
together and always be in touch with one another yes thank you, see you again I’m here with a friend Colin who’s a
boat builder and he wasn’t here two years ago when we first came here but
he’s joined the ranks since and he set himself up he does boat restorations
mostly or? mostly – he also builds boats he’s a boat builder with a long
pedigree right you can see we’ve both got grey beards it has to have some
worth to it and here we are I’ll let Colin fill in the gaps here you’ve been here how long I think I’ve been here about 10 or 11 months and
I came from having sold my little company that I’d run for 35 years a boat
yard that I had established on my own and grew it into only a small little
company but I handed that on very happily to two of my team and I’ve come
back to my roots really working in my own workshop which is really what I am I
was always a rather reluctant businessman
a very enthusiastic craftsman and I love boats and coming here to Sylva has been
a revelation to me to join this this group of people here I was going to call
it a community and I suppose in some sense it is but that has sort of other
connotations in a sense but there is a great atmosphere of support and and for
us anyone who makes things to be amongst other people to make things is
fascinating and I think really I’ve fallen on my feet
what I thought was really neat though was what two weeks ago when you had the
class here and you were teaching something yeah that’s amazing really to
take some flat pieces of wood and see what came out of it tell them what you did
well we yeah we I ran a little course a two day course making a canoe paddle so
the people started with a plank that I’d cut out on the bandsaw and whittled and
using hand tools it was very much a hand and eye operation it wasn’t something
that you could mark out very accurately and cut to a line in something you had
to eye up and smooth with your hand and use hand tools and anyway it was pretty
frantic but in two days everybody managed to produce their own paddle and
they went away at the end of the second day much to my relief with the Finnish
paddle that they can go home and maybe put some varnish on it and they look
pretty good I think and everyone was happy and it was interesting yeah I
enjoyed it it was good so this is it’s not really a retirement really for you
is it I know I’ve spent the last year or so trying to dispel that idea that I’ve
retired because I haven’t I don’t feel I’ve retired I’ve retired from running a
company but it was only a little company well I think this is really what I’ve
always tried to encourage with everybody that’s ever followed those there’s been
follow a lifestyle develop a lifestyle engineer it decide what you want and
that’s what you’re doing now you’ve really got the opportunity to engineer
your lifestyle and continue in boat building you don’t need
to retire because you know that what was it they said that if you find what you
really want to do you never have to work another day in your life yes well I
think that’s probably very true I’ve always found it very easy to do things I
like doing it and found it very hard to do things I didn’t like doing and I
think probably there is an element to that in everybody but I I’m particularly weak in
terms of doing things I definitely don’t like doing and I like doing this and I found you know
in a sense I find it very easy but it is like anything making anything
particularly using wood you know there’s a challenge an intellectual challenge
as well as a sort of practical challenge and you know keeps your brain going and
yeah I love it well I’m gonna go and chat to Neil for a little bit now see
how he’s doing – good to see you Neil Wow
two years has past, it has gone p pretty fast I can’t I can’t believe it
whenever I come in here I always see the different things that you
work on things that I never really have worked on the freeform stuff that you do
mm-hmm but I’m always impressed at the end of
it when I see the stainless steel and the brass and the bronze all come
together and this table is gonna be pretty stunning yeah this is basically
it was a an Ironwood sleeper which is you know that’s there’s a lot of
character in there what I’ve done is a base in case the whole whole thing in
risen so I you know he could have lighting up yeah I mean that’s not the
finished stage i still have to do the final polish yeah very nice so yeah this
is gonna be beautiful in the right light and everything yeah I think of getting a
bit of up lighting underneath that to shine through the gaps because
when you look at it from here it just looks like a black table and you
wouldn’t really notice that it’s wood there but yeah what has impressed me over the
last couple years is that nothing stopped you no you know you kept
persevering struggles come and all the rest of it but you still have that
passion inside of you for wanting to create something out of what I suppose
what most people would take a piece of wood like this and they might make a
mantel out of it but you’re taking it to a much new level a much higher level and
that’s what I love about what you do, i suppose that’s what happened like Colin was saying earlier I
suppose that’s what happens when you love what you do you persist and you
continue you know yeah yeah keep your chin up and
stay positive well getting to know you and your wife
and seeing her support of you and you support of her I couldn’t do it without
her no no I know she’s remarkable it’s true it really is true well it’s
been a pleasure having you guys here yeah I tell you we are gonna miss the
interaction you know well you guys have been so inspiring you know that’s
also one of the reasons just having little chats with you that’s a big
influence on what’s kept me going so thank you very much thank you for your support and
it’s not the end, none of us I don’t think feel like we
will never be here again we’ve got friendships now that we’ll
always have you just down the road
yeah we are five miles away that’s all yeah great well thanks for talking to me
and no you’re welcome Paul thanks a lot I wish you great success yeah we will get there I’m with Gareth this used to be where I
held a school this the classes were held here but Gareth has taken over that space now
but he was at the the far end of the building when a year ago maybe and
something like that six months ago yeah and then he was finishing off his boat
one of his boats that he built at school he was learning about boat building
right that’s right the boat building Academy in Lyme Regis right and how was
that oh it was just amazing was it how long were you there nine months
wow, that’s a long course but it was a very very intense course and I loved every moment of it
and I thoroughly recommend it to anybody who’s thinking of going in a different
direction so have you had much wood working skills
before you went there with only DIY and stuff like that
so nothing really quite a radical change what did you do before I was a dentist oh no it’s quite a change so yeah a big
change okay well I think that you know seeing how – because this is
what would have been declared a hot bench area but you’re a bit more
permanent than the hot bench yeah yes I am you know I started off as a hot
bencher Sylva were developing a couple more startup units later this year so
I’m hoping to move into one of those and it would be good to have a dedicated
space to work in yeah having said that everybody here is terrific there’s a
great atmosphere there’s a lot of support and as well as working we share
a lot of laughs as well yeah I think that’s the thing you see this common
thread about helping one another and you know kind of carrying one another when
you need a lift or something is yeah it’s obviously there
I think that’s one of the magical things about being here I think yes I think so
it is a magical place I think yeah, we are very fortunate to be here. for me it’s something
I’ve always wanted to see has been something like this where you actually
see the woodlands being planted and then you see the other end of it which is
ultimately making something out of wood like a boat or a canoe exactly yeah
well I’m glad you’ve been here it’s nice to see you take my space so willingly
and and I hope you’ll always enjoy being part of this definitely yeah it is a good place it’s nice to get to know you and you too I’m with my friend rodas
and he and I kind of had many conversation over a few boards like
these pieces of oak in front of me as we’ve grown to get to know each other
over the last couple years but when we first came here Rodas greeted me and
was always friendly and always affable and always easy to get along with and
you know I just want to introduce him because he’s seen us come he seen
us grow and now he’s seeing us go which is always a little bit of sadness but
then again he knows that we’re progressing and I know he’s progressing
and we’ve become friends and and you know as you move on from situations like
this you always seem to keep those links with people so yeah I just want to ask
you what you’re working on really and where you are well I’m making a circular
bench at the moment it’s made from oak air-dried oak which I picked up last
week and big boards cut up into these smaller bits shape them I’m just doing
the starting to do the finishing sanding so it’s going on deeply you can’t see was it just
a gentle curve on the top here. it stops it looking like a flat slab and gives it a bit of
character this is for the Woodland Trust has sponsored some charter poles in fact
you’ve seen the ones that Simon’s done – yeah so I’m making three of these to go around the Charter poles
yeah so there’s poll B it’s interesting to see the symbiosis because when I was
talking with Gabriel he was talking about the the first post going in here
and then we talked to Simon he was telling us and he was shaving off the
making it from octagonal to round and then he’s gonna carve it and now you’re
making the parts to it and I’m sure Chris has had some involvement yeah I’m sure
he would have done I enjoy having my workout on a lot of it goes into public
space I mean some of it is private Gardens but a lot of it goes into public space
and it’s nice just you know I cycle past a park and I see them there’s a bunch of
people sitting on my benches yeah there’s sandwiches yeah yeah I know when
and I think about things that I’ve made especially for the more famous people
and and you you kind of see them in the background somewhere
and you think I made those but nobody really knows that you made them you know like
you say with the benches … I was thinking about how Colin was saying how special it was to
have relationships to extend beyond just a nod and a cup of coffee together I mean ultimately we’ve all people become good friends here and we spend quite a
lot of time together it’s just great having extra knowledge
you know, having boat builders here yeah they’ve got all sorts of weird
and wonderful yeah I didn’t really know about yeah you know so you you’ve
learned from people and that you know I guess they learned from me maybe
it’s that kind of interdependency really that I think I’ve always felt I’ve
experienced at the highest level in some ways because of the the people that
follow us online and anything but it but when you bring it down to the
knots and bolts of a place like this you know where you’re actually working side
by side I’ve experienced that too and that is a very unique feeling
hmm well we all give each other a hand you know there’s a big beam on my
trailer there that weighs 300 kilograms yeah you know I’m not going to be moving
out on my own well I’m glad you’re still here now you
know we’re gonna be leaving soon and I suppose in some ways this is a little
bit of how we say goodbye to everybody but it’s really been a pleasure and
thank you for all your support and it’s been great having you here I’ve got some nice chopped tools here for the first time ever. I’m gonna say good bye and thank you for everything
I hope by now you’ll start seeing that you know we’ve been in the
different workplaces different workspaces and seeing everybody working
or being around what explaining what they’ve done in the progression of
what’s happened at Sylva they’ve become in some ways a bit like a family a community as Colin was trying to say but more than that they help one
another they share their space with one another that kind of creativity comes
from creative people this is still my workspace for another couple of weeks
and this was very much the facility offered by silver when we first came
here this is what we’re going to be leaving and I think everybody is
probably very familiar with this workspace this is the one you know the
best and I feel comfortable in this and I don’t think I will change very much of
this when I move to my new place my new space it won’t be any bigger than this
but I hope you’ve seen this journey I hope you’ve enjoyed watching me walk you
through it and meeting everybody because they have become a very valued people I
think have a lot to offer Society