Wood The wood-worker

What the did woodworker say to the surgeon?

The picture of orthopaedic surgeons using Black & Decker drills seems like a macabre joke, yet we live in a world where it is occasionally necessary to treat the human body as though it were a broken bit of furniture. Today, when surgeons speak of the `carpentry side' of their profession, they allude to an inheritance of manual skills. It is this digital dexterity which ironically kept surgery subservient to the more intellectual work of physicians until the late eighteenth century. Now they are relieved of much of this `dirty work' by medical technology -- less and less does a surgeon become `a traveller in a dangerous country', as Richard Selzer describes theatre practice.

While most patients would choose non-invasive techniques well before an incision by even the most supple `surgeon's hands', `hand crafted' does not seem to have lost any of its value in woodwork.

Martin Corbin's waiting room Outside Martin Corbin's workshop, a series of chairs stand waiting for surgery.

Martin Corbin (Will I be able to play the piano?) explores the lighter side of this relationship: his reconstruction of an abandoned chair makes woodwork seem a life-giving exercise. The final product on waiting room table, with photo of original chair framed in its own wood.
Martin Corbin's cabinet
Helmut Lueckenhausen's pieces For Helmut Lueckenhausen (Aus dem Wunderkammer: from the cabinet of wonders), on the other hand, the particular use of Huon pine grants solid timber the kind of sacred fragility normally associated with human flesh. In a family scene, two parental forms stand together with their offspring preserved in jars of olive oil.