Invisible Store of Happiness

Making Happy

Artist Laura Ellen Bacon shares with Hole & Corner the joys of collaboration & working in wood.

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The Invisible Store of Happiness is discrete. Yes - it’s scale and positioning make it visible – but it’s rather different to some of its other contemporaries - less disco more soul - pleasing on the eye and gently sensuous with its maple ribbon curves and steam bent cherry wood sections…In fact, it’s a rather introspective installation. The name is taken from the joy a maker derives the process of making something.

The work is a collaboration between sculptor Laura Ellen Bacon and designer and craftsman Sebastian Cox. Commissioned by the American Hardwood Export Council for Clerkenwell Design Week (19-21 May) it’s been made to raise the profile of two under appreciated American hardwoods maple and cherry and has been sat under The Museum of the Order of St John, St John’s Gate EC1, Clerkenwell.

How do you describe what you do?
I’m a sculptor and I create really large woven works by hand, mostly in willow, in landscape, cityscape or interior settings.

My work is purely sculptural and I love interacting with the built environment. My works often feel semi-architectural in their form as they can be large enough to enter. Increasingly I am working with architects on larger, permanent projects.

What materials do you generally work with?
I almost always use one material in the piece I’m working on. Mostly I work with Somerset-grown willow but I’ve used other materials when appropriate such as copper, Corten steel, recycled cable and wool felt.

Can you explain how you got involved with the Invisible Store of Happiness project?
This came about because Sebastian and I had been working on some ideas of how we could collaborate as we both admired each other’s work (I’d previously sent him a message on Twitter to ask if he’d like to collaborate). Luckily, AHEC had asked Sebastian if he would like to be involved in Clerkenwell Design Week and I’m incredibly grateful that Sebastian pitched the idea of us collaborating to them, which they were enthused by, and here we are!

How did find the collaboration process with Cox? Were there differences in opinion in approach to the project?
The entire collaborative process was wonderful. It wasn’t easy, but I really like the way Sebastian thinks and our creative differences were actually really beneficial - differences that fuelled our creativity rather than hinder it. My approach to reading the site and creating scale was new and challenging for Sebastian and his precision and absolute respect (and deep knowledge) for the material (American Hardwood, Maple and Cherry) was a challenge for me. I measure everything that I make with very careful coordination of hand and eye –not millimetres, but this made for a collaboration that was led by the material, but also creative and practical intuition.

Had you worked with the woods you were given before?
I hadn’t, no. I used to experiment with woods when I was much younger as my granddad was a joiner and had his own workshop, but that was many years ago.

Are you pleased with the end result?
Yes. I hope we’ve made a work that is delicate but grounded and articulates both the wood itself and the joy of making, which is what we hoped to convey in an abstract way.

What are you up to now and next?
I am currently working on really large, permanent piece in a new headquarters building in Denmark and following that, I am creating a huge installation entitled, ‘Murmuration’ on the façade of the Holburne Museum in Bath that opens on the 27th June.

Laura Ellen Bacon
Invisible Store of Happiness
Clerkenwell Design Week

Photographs 3-4 Petr Krejci