During February and March 2017, Michael Fortune was both a mentor and a participant in the first six week Artist in Residence and Open Studio programme held at Centre For Fine Woodworking (CFW) in Nelson, New Zealand.

Michael tutored and also made the most of a rare opportunity to work freely on several projects that were not client commissions. David Haig, CFW’s lead full time programme tutor, also participated and taught throughout the residency and took the opportunity to design and make a piece, in this case a hat stand.

Kelly Parker (Missouri, USA) recently the recipient of the first Krenov professional development award and also a former intern in Michael Fortune’s workshop, acted as an assistant teacher. Louise Fuller, another former intern, is CFW’s newly appointed teaching assistant and technician and was on hand to organise workflows and ensure everyone’s experience was an inspiring and memorable one.

During the residency Kelly chose for her own project a challenging design for a steambent living room chair. The frame was an 11.5 metre continuous spiral that starts as a tight coil and then uncoils and curves over to create a beautiful seat. Kelly was pleased to have input from Michael and David, both expert woodbenders, to complete the five separate steam bends required. The frame was then scarf jointed together in three sections.

Five students, by chance all women, came from Canada, USA as well as locally from New Zealand. Participants in the residency all designed their own projects. Carol Salvin worked on a pair of tables with a design based on a 'ribbon idea'. Lucinda Daly designed and made an occasional chair, while Lorraine Moss-Smith designed and made one of a set chairs for a living room.

After the residency Michael, again assisted by Kelly, taught an eight day masterclass entitled Discovering Space – Inside and Out which focused on designing and making a small cabinet for precious items. For this previous students of Michael returned for a week-long intensive during which they sketched, made scale models and full scale mock-ups for an eclectic mix of cabinets and display furniture.

One project was a cabinet to preserve and display an authentic ceremonial Maori cloak such as may be worn by a Kaumatua. The latter is a tribal elder who is chosen as one who can teach and guide both current and future generations. It seemed fitting to celebrate the end of the Michael’s tenure at CFW with the photo shown of him wearing the cloak!

For details of courses which may be undertaken at the Centre for Fine Woodworking and details of future artist residencies see

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