Making Matters: The curious nature of 'Off-Beat Violins'


Andrew Carruthers presents the results of his Covid-19 lockdown project, the ‘Off-Beat Violins’ – a synthesis of art, music and the forms of the natural world

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When we carve a violin it goes through many very sculptural stages. These works in progress make favourite subjects for violin makers’ social media posts, but then all traces of the gouge and plane marks are cleaned away, leaving the pure, iconic form of a violin. I’ve often thought that it would be interesting to go straight from gouge to varnish, leaving heavy tool marks in the wood, and trying to capture some of the raw energy and sculptural forms present in some of the early stages. So when the Covid-19 pandemic granted me some spare time, that’s what I did. I had thought that it would just be a one-off exercise, but instead it started a sort of chain reaction that is still fermenting away.

This project, which I call ‘Off-Beat Violins’, has brought some of my life’s interests full circle. I went to art school and then on to a degree in design and ecology, pursuing my interests in both art and the natural world. During my career as a violin maker I had always hoped to get back to painting some day, but somehow it never happened. Then I realised that, rather than trying to relearn how to paint, I could simply use violin making as a medium for exploring the world. Using violins as a sort of painter’s canvas opened a door for me…

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