Tony Farrell



Tony Farrell, Cork, Ireland

On a truly winters day of storm force winds and lashing rain, I made my way from Dublin in a flimsy-feeling hire-car to Cork.  
The weather was worse than dull.  The experience was everything but...

I arrived at the Cork Craft & Design shop in Douglas, Co. Cork. The CC&D is a collective established to represent professional craft makers in Cork County and to ensure that Cork gains a reputation as a centre for excellence in the making of contemporary craft. The shop sells a wide range of handmade, locally produced and crafted work using wood, ceramics, textiles, paper, glass, felt, metal... Set on the edge of a shopping centre, between M&S and Starbucks the somewhat incongruous position for this craft shop is, in many ways perfect, offering something really very different and doing very well because of it.

I had arranged to meet wood worker, Tony Farrell here. We have stocked Tony's Double-Sided Boards after seeing them at Tent, London in the autumn. Tony talked me through the work in the shop, telling me about the individual makers and the importance of the CC&D for local makers.

From Douglas we drove out to Ballinora where Tony's workshop is. The colossal tree trunks banked on the left as we turned into the driveway and an upturned root of quite breath-taking sculptural beauty were adequate indication that we had arrived!


We stepped out of the relentless drizzle and into Tony's garden workshop. I was overtaken by the wonderful smell. Wood was stacked in vast hewn discs and solid sections from floor to ceiling, benches were filled with work-in-progress, tools; saws, chisels, gouges and files balanced on the edges of the lathes.

Tony began working with wood when his partner bought him a lathe for Christmas some years ago, with the suggestion that he 'stopped talking about it and started doing it!' He did. There is more than one lathe in the workshop now and a garden full of tree trunks.

Immediately pulling on overalls and a hat Tony asked if I'd like to see how one of the Simple Shape end grain boards are made, "...this is how it begins, I glue and clamp and then cut out using my template.  Then I get it onto the lathe."

The rhythmic machine noise, spinning disc, flying wood shavings and evident skill gave way to an end-grain Double-Sided Board. So satisfying to watch. And the boards are really rather beautiful!


Alongside the very functional wooden pieces that Tony makes he also crafts sizeable sculptural pieces too, responding to the wood that makes it's ways into his possession, either by luck, windfall (literally) or donation.

From the Chilean Pine or Monkey Puzzle wood that he has been seasoning Tony has begun to shape huge, dramatic bowls allowing the quirks of the wood to dictate the form of the bowl. Who knows what exactly will become of the trunks resting in the garden...? Something great, that's certain.

I liked this place. A lot.
Thank you for showing me round.