"I like the contrast between the piece of solid wood that 1
mount on my lathe and the delicate and r translucent object that
emerges from it after hours and hours of turning"
Upon meeting Merete Larsen one is first struck by her energy,
temperament and determination. She appears to be someone who
knows where she is going, constantly on the move... Once beyond
this initial impression of impatient mobility, one discovers
that her bubbling personality is rooted in sensitivity, a
capacity for concentration and an exacting nature.
These same qualities are also to be found in the itinerary of
her life and in her work. It took a great deal of energy and
strength of character to build a life around an affinity with
trees. By choosing to become a cabinet-maker, and then a
restorer of antique furniture, both arduous and demanding
professions, she learnt first to master the material so that it
served our needs, and then to tend the wounds inflicted by time
on treasured pieces. But, above all, she learnt to understand
the nature of wood, to the point of embarking on a new and more
personal adventure with this material.
As a result Merete Larsen has been turning vessels in wood
for the last ten years, using fanuliar species such as ash,
beech or sycamore, which she fashions with the basic tools of
the woodturner. But, also, with increasingly refined skill and
intuition, and with the respectful care due to a living material.
Motivated by a sense of challenge as well as of pleasure,
Merete undertook this new apprenticeship in the solitude of her
workshop. It took a great deal of strength and physical
endurance. It also required patience and a receptive nature to
acquire the intuitive faculty which allows her today, when
cutting up a tree with a chainsaw, to anticipate the effects she
can obtain from each piece of wood.
From the beginning she had a clear and distinct aim: to
extract from crude and massive chunks of wood, pure and refined
forms. In brief, to push the turning process to the utmost limit
until the wood is reduced to a thickness of one millimetre and
can no longer hold back the light (as in those 18th century
porcelains that Merete is so fond of). With time her shapes have
become increasingly ample and controlled, their monumental
presence contrasting with their infinite lightness.
Merete Larsen's approach is guided by her quest for formal
perfection. Her real talent lies in creating perfect shapes - as
perfect as possible - but which are not frozen in their
refinement. The precise and controlled gesture is not a goal in
itself but a means of exploring the mystery of the material.
Through the magic translucidity at the heart of this formal
perfection we perceive the secret structures of an organic
material, the chaotic patterns of life itself. And when Merete
is moved to add colour to her shapes, or lines of burnt
incisions, she does so without hindering the wood's
translucidity nor concealing its texture. Despite her highly
controlled manipulation of the wood, her material never loses
Beyond the aesthetic qualities of her work is to be found a
lively tension residing in the apparent ambiguity of practising
a rigorous technique which seems to strive for immateriality.
Paradoxically this does not lead to a denial of the material
nature of the wood but, on the contrarv, enhances and reaffirms
it with powerful subtlety.
Merete Larsen speaks of her work with the modesty of a
craftsman. But there is to be found in these sublime vessels
something which goes beyond mere skill, and which we will not
attempt to define.