Carving out a simpler life

Mark Reddy, Somerset, England

Mark Reddy has had numerous creative careers: as a magazine illustrator, a prop maker for TV shows, and an art director for creative agencies. “It was as high-flying as you could get,” he laughs. But he became disillusioned and found himself on a quest to simplify his life, and return to making things for his own enjoyment, while also reconnecting with nature.

“I got trapped in an endless array of committees, caught in the maelstrom of bureaucracy,” Mark remembers. With the money he made from his career, Mark bought a patch of woodland in Kent. “It was a place to go and think, to just ‘be’,” he says. “I had a clearing with a rudimentary shelter, and the wood around me became my therapy. It brought me back to making things with my hands, and on that journey, I discovered the spoon. Sitting round a campfire carving, I realised they represent everything I need as an artist.”

“The spoon is arguably mankind’s first vessel”

He now spends his time whittling beautiful bespoke pieces – much admired on social media – and is obsessed with a quest for beauty through the utility of design. “The spoon is arguably mankind’s first vessel,” he says. “It is universal, humble, and has all the attributes of a sculptural object – the bowl, lip and stem. It’s complex, intimate and positive, a utensil with a function to nourish and give life. It’s both practical and symbolic. But ultimately, it’s just a spoon.” Mark, 63, believes there has been a major movement toward handmade craft over the past decade. “Walk through Shoreditch, and you’ll see handmade bags, artisan beers, print workshops, pottery classes,” he says.

“There’s something special about using your head, hands and heart together”

“There’s an increased need for the physical, for making things, to compensate for too much time in front of screens. People want provenance, and objects with meaning.” And in a long career, he believes the key to fulfilment is “staying connected with being curious”. He adds: “There’s something special about using your head, hands and heart together. Design should be a tenet for good living. I spend my days carving in bliss, and enjoy everything I make. And one day, I’ll make a good spoon!”

Photography by Jody Daunton