Maker of the Week - Nairi Safaryan

Monday 7 November 2011

Armenian master woodcarver Nairi Safaryan has always loved the medium of woodcarving, and admits that this has always been his "first love", despite undertaking a degree and diploma in engineering.

In 1987 Nairi Safaryan became a member of the Art Fund which gave him a chance to show his works, which included a vase and a jewellery box. This was to be the start of an exciting journey for Nairi.

In 1991, Nairi decided to show his work at Vernisage (an outdoor art fair in the central region of Yerevan). Here he showed a jewellery box that he placed on the ground in a corner, as he did not have a table to display the piece on. According to Nairi's website, the box that was made of a single block of pear wood from a local Armenian orchard, carved several layers deep with vine leaves and fruits - each leaf so thin and light, each tendril so fine and sinewy - the fruits so remarkably natural immediately caught people's attention who wanted but would not dare to touch the box as it seemed to be so delicate.

Over the next few years, Nairi worked on combining his technical knowledge together with his artistic talent; designing and carving to the limits of the wood's strength, achieving extraordinary levels of thinness and refinement of the material. Nairi comments that he envisions the finished design before beginning.

Nairi is a world-class carver and artist and his carvings are exhibited in many museums and private collections around the world.

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(Images, from top to bottom)

1. A simple yet intricate carving of a single rose graces the top of this oblong jewellery box, which is hand carved from a single piece of boxwood. Nairi Safaryan has handcarved this from a single piece of boxwood. The piece is not stained and there is no coating on it, 250mm (9 3/4in) x 100mm (4in) x 120mm (4 3/4in)

2. Hand-carved grapes, leaves and vines surround the cup banded at the top in silver. Carved from a single piece walnut, finished with beeswax and left unstained, 160mm (6 1/4in) tall x 55mm (2 1/4in) dia.

3. 'Dream' sculpture of a woman, a mythical creature or other form in this figure, which is left up to your own interpretation. Carved from one piece of walnut, the figure measures 460mm (18in) tall with a diameter of 100mm (4in)

4. Vase with hand carved grapes, vines and leaves, carved from one block of boxwood, 330mm (13in) tall x 90mm (3 1/2in) dia.