Thirty years ago I left art school armed with a diploma in sculpture, having specialised in wood construction and clay modeling. In the first few years of my career I made many large and interactive mechanical wooden sculptures. In the process I became fascinated with the medieval approach to constructing wooden machines, using wedges, dowels, wheels and cogs.
At that time in Ireland it was extremely hard to make a living as an artist. Materials were expensive, as were equipment and studio hire. Patrons were few and far between. As a consequence my dream of working as a sculptor was put on hold. Instead I developed my drawing style, becoming interested in scenes of pageantry with all the attendant imagery of kings, queens and knights in shining armour.
In 1984 I was living in penury in a tiny studio at the end of the New King’s Road in London. One morning I noticed some bulky lengths of hardwood being carried into a workshop across the street. The workshop was very busy and in the days to come I saw many fine pieces of work leaving it. They often worked into the night and the scent of freshly cut hardwood made me very homesick. The name over the workshop door was ‘David Linley’.
When I returned to Ireland my circumstances improved as I started to achieve some success with my painting. This meant that I was at last able to return to my sculpting, though this time through wax and clay into bronze and silver. Again my forms were full of medieval pageantry.
I had a great desire to combine my metal sculpting with my love of wood, and began to think about making an integral chess set and table that would reflect my interest in pageantry. I began to think again of that busy workshop across from my studio in London, and wondered if they would interpret my design for me.
And so after a gestation of thirty years this dream of mine has finally been realised in the most beautiful and skillful way. All that remains is for me to thank every person involved for their patience and their dedication.