Meet the Judges: Maker of the Year 2022

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Makers, designers, artists, teachers, architects, historians, writers and curators – these are the collective skills of our eminently qualified panel of judges for Maker of the Year presented by Carbatec 2022! And more than that, they are all lovers and supporters of the craft of fine woodworking!

This year our judges hail from Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the USA and they will apply their wide-ranging experience to determine award winners for Maker of the Year. Spread over six categories, there are 15 awards worth over AUD$23,000, including $10,000 in cash and $10,000 in Carbatec vouchers.

Entries close September 5, 2022 and judging will commence soon after. Shortlisted entries will be announced in our November 9 eNewsletter, sign up here if you're not receiving that. Award winners and selected entries will be featured in our December issue 117, subscribe now to receive that.

All entries are published on our website, just click on a category image to view them. You can also follow our Facebook and Instagram pages to see selected entries. Many of the faces below will be familiar to you, and you may also recognise our Maker of the Year 2021, William Bayliss, is amongst them.

Without further ado, please meet our judges!


Laura Mays, USA  is an Irish woodworker, designer, and educator. She is the Lead Instructor and Program Director at The Krenov School, Mendocino College, in Fort Bragg California, USA since 2011. Trained originally as an architect, Laura gravitated towards woodworking as a more holistic and engaging practice. She earned a degree in architecture from University College Dublin, a certificate in Furniture Design and Manufacture at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (Letterfrack), a Masters in Design at the National College of Art and Design (Ireland), and another certificate in fine woodworking at the College of the Redwoods Fine Woodworking Program in Fort Bragg CA (now The Krenov School).

Laura has also taught at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (Ireland), the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship (ME), and Penland (NC). She has exhibited in the USA and Ireland, and has work in private collections in both countries. She has a piece in the permanent collection of the National Museum of Ireland.

In 2019, she co-curated Making a Seat at the Table: Women Transform Woodworking at The Center for Art in Wood in Philadelphia. She is a contributor to the recently published book: (author Deirdre Visser) Joinery, Joists and Gender: A Woodworking History for the 21st Century (Routledge 2022). She is the founding president of The Krenov Foundation, and remains on its Board. Photo: Hubbard M. Jones for


Will Matthysen, Victoria, originally trained as an architect in London and Melbourne before working on large commercial projects for 10 years. He then discovered the joy and satisfaction of designing and making with his hands. Over the last 30 years he has built a career in creating over 200 clocks for clients in Australia and abroad. Will’s concept was to design and build functional sculptural timepieces where the clock mechanics and cabinet form an integrated whole. In the past these were separate trades performed by different people coming from different craft traditions.

Will has an ongoing interest in the crossover of techniques, methods, and materials in each tradition, and how they can merge and influence each other. He has exhibited widely, contributed to publications including Australian Wood Review, and participated as a judge in various woodwork exhibitions. Will has tutored in architecture and design at RMIT and Melbourne Universities and lectured at the Australian School of Fine Furniture in Launceston, Tasmania. He has received numerous awards and exhibited widely.

For many woodworkers, their professional practice can be an isolating experience. Will has been active for many years in voluntary woodwork organisations that provide a sense of community and common purpose, where ideas and skills can be exchanged, and friendships made with likeminded individuals. For the last four years he has served as Chair for Studio Woodworkers Australia, and prior to that was President of the Victorian Woodworkers Association from 2002 to 2011.


Grace Cochrane AM, Sydney  An independent curator and writer, from 1988 Grace Cochrane was curator, then senior curator of Australian decorative arts and design until late 2005, at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, and author of The Crafts Movement in Australia: a History (NSW University Press, 1992). In the Powerhouse Museum, she was co-ordinating curator for the exhibition, Inspired! Design across time (2005), and curator for Smart works: design and the handmade (2007).

Recent external exhibitions include White gums and ramoxes: ceramics by Merric and Arthur Boyd from the Bundanon Trust Collection (2009-2010), Looking glass: reflecting ideas, for the Sarjeant Gallery, New Zealand (2009-2010), Potters Cottage: a tribute, for the Manningham Art Gallery, Melbourne (2012), Luminary: Remembering Robert Foster, for CraftACT (2016).

Grace has been associated with woodworkers since becoming involved in the crafts movement in Tasmania in the 1970s and is an honorary member of Studio Woodworkers Australia. For 40 years, working across all crafts media, she has opened exhibitions, spoken at conferences in Australia and overseas, written for a range of catalogues, journals and publications and has examined many PhD and Master’s submissions.

Born in New Zealand, Grace Cochrane moved to Australia in 1972, and has a B.Ed (1976) from the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education, and BFA, MFA (1984, 1986) and PhD (1999) from the University of Tasmania. In 2007 she was awarded a D.Litt by the University of NSW. Professional appointments have included membership of the Crafts Board and the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council, the Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board, and other boards and committees. She received the Australia Council’s Visual Arts/Craft Board’s Emeritus medal in 2001. In 2013 she was made a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia.


Marc Fish, and the Robinson House Studio, UK have quickly achieved international acclaim, with Marc’s work being increasingly sought after. He is the recipient of numerous awards and has exhibited in the UK, USA, Europe and Mexico. He constantly strives to blur the traditional boundaries of furniture, art, design and sculpture: “It is not my intention to be allocated a particular style or to be described within a preconceived discipline. I want my work to transcend these barriers.”

Marc’s pieces are not constructed using a rigid design process, they are the result of an evolution of ideas: an initial concept comes together in a process of innovation and experimentation. His latest work is continuing with veneers, creating inter-curving sculptural pieces. The studio is the only one in the world to solely work in laminated veneers, this technique has further developed in Marc’s studio over a ten year period. The studio uses many materials but have gained a reputation for the sculptural shapes they create using their laminating techniques.

Marc has twice been awarded the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers’ highest award the Claxton Stevens Award. Firstly with L’Orchidée, a desk in 2011 and then with Vortex dining table in 2019. The Claxton Stevens Award is given to the best Guild Mark piece of any given year.


Ruth Thompson, NSW After 35 years of teaching high school students wood-based curriculum, focussing on developing their design ethos and high-quality manufacturing skills, Ruth is now developing her own work. A Churchill fellowship allowed participation in a short furniture design programme at The Royal College of Art, London.

Using a mix of traditional and contemporary manufacturing techniques, solid timber and veneers and luxury textiles and other materials, Ruth enjoys creating high quality products that provoke a response in the viewer. Currently, she makes domestic furniture for gallery sale and on commission in the Southern Highlands of NSW and recently completed work for an artist based in New York City (USA).

In her own words, she says: ‘I am strongly influenced by the clean lines of the Shaker movement and the avant-garde of the Bauhaus movement. Although these design periods are separated by a century, they both epitomise the use of minimalist design while seeking to create works that are visually interesting. As a designer maker I aim to create works that are visually complex, using simple elements. The process of creating a bespoke piece for a client, from consultation through to completion of a piece is profoundly satisfying. I enjoy the problem solving involved in taking a piece from an idea to reality. The engineering challenges presented in the manufacturing process to construct a functional, high quality; enduring work change with every new piece created.’

In 2022 Ruth Thompson co-curated Beyond Ordinary, a highly acclaimed and ground-breaking exhibition that featured the work of 26 Australian women makers. As an accredited member of Studio Woodworkers Australia, Ruth also showed work this year in The Art of Making at the Australian Design Centre in Sydney.


William Bayliss is a multi-award winning craftsman who started as an apprentice with Dunstone Design in July of 2015 at the age of 16. William was awarded the John Tiddy Memorial Prize in 2018 for the ACT/NSW region, as well as Apprentice of the Year 2018. In May 2019, William won the Wootha Prize. At 20, William was the youngest maker to ever win the Wootha.

In early 2020 William was awarded a sponsored fellowship to study for six weeks under Canadian Master Michael Fortune at the Centre for Fine Woodworking in Nelson, New Zealand. In 2021, William took out Overall Winner as well as Winner in the category Tables, Chairs and Desks in Australian Wood Review’s Maker of the Year Awards with his Bunyjul Occasional Tables.

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