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Luke Hope’s exquisitely crafted sculptures are made with an intimate appreciation soaring far beyond their functional resolve. Beginning his creative path in 2014 and having spent 20 or so years in a very different vocation, his artistic foundation originated with the form of a spoon. Hope now yields all kinds of objects, both abstract and functional, including scoops, bowls and vessels. Each are skillfully carved and shaped from single pieces of wood using a combination of traditional and modern carving tools and techniques. Deeply connected to the physicality of his medium, his work is often slow and contemplative; returned to and developed over time. Harnessing the unique, often anthropomorphic qualities of each piece, the work unites the boundaries of human, natural and architectural environments.
With a focus on the importance of line and the interplay of light, Hope favours the colours and materiality of woods such as sycamore, ancient bog oak and dark walnut. These primary materials each boast solid, block colours that run throughout, with subtle gradations in grain lines and tone. The naturalised UK Sycamore is the artist’s current preferred canvas, with its luster possessing qualities he likens to bone, tissues and tendons. Its ancient undulations of wood grain recall the mapped lines of a human finger print.
Hope looks beyond the qualifications of his wooden medium, interrogating the properties of other materials for inspiration. A fold in fabric, a crease in a piece of paper – he imitates the characteristics of these materials, reconfiguring them with an alluring, somewhat enigmatic identity. At the core is a synergy of natural formation and the synthetic, manipulated by human action. This dynamic interplay of material disposition significantly impacts the way each subtle line is crafted. Vessels are arranged in clusters, like biomorphic cityscapes. Several have spine-like ridges on the outer shell, casting delicate shadows. Some have been gently warped; twisting and turning like branches grasping for sunlight. Others stand more like architectural monuments, appearing to soar despite their modest scale.
The tantalisingly narrowed curvature of a spoon handle at once exudes delicacy and elegance, but yet is robust. Ringed markings coalesce into a basin, or seem to drift rebelliously off the edge of a handle. Walnut platters host velvety pools where the wood has been excavated but are surrounded by pockets of erosion alongside a rough and bark-like skin – all dictated by the artist’s hand. Hope’s formative handwork espouses a communication between human action and nature’s temperament. In his translation of these aesthetic objects, Luke Hope exposes the potential of wood with an unexpected and innovative vision. The work reveals his finely tuned contemplation of a symbiosis, in which the natural and man-made conjoin. The wooden medium, removed from its natural source, becomes perpetuated in a new, sculptural context, challenging us to interrogate our relationships with familiarity and expectation.