Canadian students at the Chippendale International School of Furniture win top woodworking awards

Two young Canadian woodworking students at the Chippendale International School of Furniture have won prestigious awards – with one of the student’s pieces being exhibited at the Scottish parliament.

Student of the Year is Andrew Brassington from Ontario. His course work included a monumental door made from locally sourced Scottish timber – inspired by a silver birch sapling that he saw growing through the ruins of a collapsing barn in southern Ontario.

Design Student of the Year is Ria Da Costa, originally from Trinidad and Tobago, now also living in Ontario. She created an intricate Lennox Desk, named after her grandfather, with no less than 2,167 pieces of veneer on its surface; it was exhibited in the country’s parliament.

Last year, Gary Staple, from Halifax, won Student of the Year for his portfolio of work, which included a stunning tea cabinet.

The Chippendale International School of Furniture – near Edinburgh, Scotland – has been teaching furniture design, restoration and making for 30 years. Each year it attracts students from around the world for intensive 30-week courses. This year’s intake included students from Canada, the U.S., Norway, Italy and the U.K.

The school has built an international reputation in a niche area of further education, nurturing craftsmanship and raising the profile of furniture design and making as a career option. Leading European arts commentator Richard Demarco, a professor and former European Citizen of the Year, has described the school as an “inspirational and wonderful institution of international importance.”

Andrew Brassington’s winning piece was his L’arbre Door, inspired by the resilience of the silver birch that had grown into an empty door frame propped against a pile of stones to leave the tree highlighted against the sunset.

Ria Da Costa’s winning desk, in mahogany and walnut, with a sycamore veneer, was stained with vinegar and iron shavings to give a metallic effect – and was designed to merge the old and the new in a unique and timeless design.

Each year the school takes students of all ages from all over the world for its immersive 30-week courses. Some come straight from school, while others are looking for new creative careers – or to learn a new skill in retirement. The school also runs one week “taster” courses through the year.

Says Anselm Fraser, the school’s principal, “Both students have demonstrated incredible talent, with all the pieces they have made through the year. The school is all about unlocking imagination and giving our students the skills and confidence to turn creativity into things of beauty, and both Ria and Andrew have done just that.”

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