New Furniture




Cabinet in Cherry and Mahogany with Cyanoype prints




This piece was made for the exhibition New Bedford Harbor in a New Light, May 21 - August 22 2013, University Art Gallery, UMass, Dartmouth, and the New Bedford Art Museum, New Bedford, Ma.

artist's statement and bio for the catalogue:

This cabinet combines strategies and techniques from furniture making traditions, graphic design and photo processes to tell a visual story. The story is about two men - John Manjiro in Japan and Herman Melville in New Bedford, Ma., who set off on sea voyages within 3 days of each other in January of 1841, crossing the oceans in opposite directions , Melville toward Japan and Manjiro eventually to Fairhaven (New Bedford). Both men played their parts in the story of the opening of Japan to the West, the drifting of ideas and cultures carrying through to today, while still smelling the same oceans, hearing the same birds - two men in nature and history. The story is told in an abstract way with the open ended, overlapping, non-linear meanings particular to images, including images of text. The Moby Dick images, for instance, can be read for the actual Rockwell Kent imagery - like the crow's nest, which could be imagined as Melville himself on his first whaling voyage - or as an image representing the book Moby Dick and its place in our histories, all superimposed on a piece of furniture. This seems logical to me, in the logic perhaps of the Japanese tea bowl, because a cabinet is made to hold things, a special cabinet made with great care and purpose is made to hold special things, so this cabinet could be said to hold ideas and stories on its surface through purpose made images of my own - drawings and photos made from nature locally - as well as appropriated images from various sources.

Besides the narrative content about Melville, John Manjiro and New Bedford harbor, the piece is a visual proposal. The graphics are about diagonals - all the exciting things you might do with diagonals. There's a rhythm of positive/negative. There's a grid structure -the artsy scrapbook, or the graphic novel - japanized by the off centered, asymmetrical, Mikado-like, coy cocking of the head in the placement of the images. The blue and white cyanotype prints open up another cliched image of Japan. There's an attempt to balance the simple sweeping form - the box on stand - and the slight chaos of the floating graphic strategy. You could say there's some appropriation of images, though that might be a very 80's way of seeing it. I prefer to think of it, in the age of Facebook, as a way to affect the great digital image flow.

David Richardson is a furniture maker and artist working out of Fall River and New Bedford, Ma. He was born in 1951 in Port Chester, New York. At age 15 and 16 he had a summer job as a studio assistant to former Life Magazine photographer and co-founder of the Magnum Photo Agency, William Vandivert, in New York. He attended Rhode Island School of Design as a photo major, studying with Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind, graduating in 1973 with a BFA in photography. In his junior year he hitchhiked through Europe with a 4x5 view camera and tripod. After graduating from RISD he worked for 12 years at the Attwill Furniture Company in Lynn, Ma. as an antique restorer and also studied painting independently in Boston with Boston Museum School professor and contemporary Japanese painter Kaji Aso. He showed his paintings regularly with the Kaji Aso Studio in Boston and internationally in London and Tokyo. In 1986 he established his own restoration shop in Fall River which continues in business today as Northeast Studio Co. with museum and private clients throughout New England. He has been an active member of the Furniture Society since 1998, and established a blog - FS After Hours – writing about furniture, art and craft. He has worked over the last several years on a body of contemporary furniture that takes the Japanese tea bowl as a starting point as the “perfect object”, combining function and high art. Since moving to New Bedford in 2008 he has shown both furniture and painting locally, including a 3 person show in the fall of 2011 at the Grimshaw Gudewicz Gallery at BCC with Yuri Kobayashi and Brad Fesmire. His ancestors built large sailing ships in Rockland, Maine in the 19th century. The last one built was a five masted schooner named after his great-grandmother, the Jenny Cobb, and was sunk by a German U-boat during WW1.

These cyanotype prints will also be shown at the Harbor Show:

Seven Samurai

Throne of Blood


more shop photos: