Pene Turner

Pene Turner



Perth local Pene Turner is the true definition of a maker. Not wanting to be contained or limited in style or medium, Turner has developed a multiple layered and diverse skill set using an extensive variety of techniques and products. Soft fluid organic lines are the foundation of her wooden forms, with the stark contrast of land and coastlines providing a limitless source of inspiration for fibre art. The spaces in between allow for continued exploration. Working almost entirely with natural products provides the link connecting all of her creations.

“Nature will always influence my eye and therefore continue to have its impact on my style while I continue to let the flow of creativity guide me.”

How did you get into working with wood?
I first began my woodworking experience in High School. We were fortunate enough to have a co-ed school that gave every student the opportunity to try and learn every single skill on offer. From typing, to home economics, to metalwork, and more, we all learned the same things. I can distinctly remember going into the wood room on that first day and being 'hit' by the glorious smells of timber, oils, and varnish. I felt right at home. I was 13.

Many years later and needing two sturdy bar stools for my two young girls, I enrolled in a furniture-making school. I was an immediate challenge for the teachers! They thought I would only be capable of making one chair. I needed two. So the challenge was set. As I type, I am sitting on one, and my cat Walter is sitting next to me on the other. I guess determination should never be underestimated. These chairs are now 27 years old!

Skipping back a whole lot earlier in life, I had also learned to become a Picture Framer. Yes, timber again, but I think it was in this space at age 17, one of the greatest things was learned. I was taught to use incredibly dangerous tools. Back in the late '80s, safety was NOT like it is now, and I do giggle a little at how I managed to come through that unscathed!! It was in this space that I learned how to address tools with confidence. Something I truly believe has followed me through my whole life, and because of it, I have never been afraid of power tools. Careful, yes. Appreciative of their negative capabilities - absolutely.

It was then in 2017 that I began what was the foundation of what I do today. I made my very first spoon. I tend to jump into self-taught learning. It is just how I am. No YouTube, no books, no asking Google. Imagining is the start. Forming an image in my head. Thinking about what tools were in the shed. Could I make all these things work together to create the outcome.. The answer was yes. It was a year before I spoke to another spoon maker or looked at how it was done by others. That year gave me EVERYTHING I needed to develop my very own style. It allowed me to refine absolutely everything. And in that year, I found the Ball Gouge. And everything changed.

Pene Turner Image Gallery 1

Pene embraces the raw beauty of timber's natural edges and lets it organic charm shine as the star of the show.

Pene Turner Image Gallery 2

Passionate about food, she envisions her creations filled with garlic, chili olives, homemade dips, and dukkah.

Pene Turner Image Gallery 3

Say goodbye to plain dishware and embrace creative dining!

Pene Turner Image Gallery 4

She holds a deep appreciation for the raw beauty found in timber's natural edges, making it a prominent feature whenever feasible.

Pene Turner Image Gallery 5

An array of Pene Turner creations. While appearing unconventional, these pieces serve their purpose as functional items.

Pene Turner Image Gallery 6

Her wooden creations find their roots in soft, fluid, organic lines – the essence of her artistry.

Pene Turner Image Gallery 7

It's Pene! Wood and Fibre Artist hailing from Perth, Australia.

Throw out those white ceramic platters and get creative with eating!

Throw out those white ceramic platters and get creative with eating!

What inspires your creations?
Nature! Hands down the most incredible reference you can find. History is always interesting, but nature really is my main inspiration. The curves, the finish, the sharp edges. All those things combined created something visually pleasing but feels wonderful in hand. For me that is vital. I ADORE the natural edges of timber, and where at all possible I will allow that to become the feature. Landscapes in nature are a thing of beauty that also is an element I use. My more art-based pieces I will sway and curve the edges to mimic the horizons of the land. The scooped-out bowl follows the natural edge to create organic forms. They look rather more unconventional, but they are still a functioning 'bowl' as such. I love food, so the majority of the time I am imagining these pieces filled with chunks of cheese, garlic and chilli olives, a homemade dip, and maybe some dukkah... I mean why not! Throw out those white ceramic platters and get creative with eating! Ha!

What would you tell your younger self starting out on your artistic journey?
Ooh, this is a fun one! On one hand, I would not tell her a thing. I would sit back with my glass of red wine and watch as she navigates her way through - because sometimes timing is just as it should be.

On the other hand, I would say JUMP IN!! DO IT!! That thing that was presented to you at 17 (that is a story for another day!) will change your life and start you on a journey that may be wonderful, it will be scary, it might be brilliant or it might be TERRIBLE!! One thing I would tell her for certain is to find a mentor, find a person who can help you navigate the intricacies of what you are about to embark on, but more importantly, I would tell her to never ever fear failure OR success!! Every single thing you do that may not work is a learning curve of what will come next. 'Failure' is the most exciting and wonderful creature. Embrace it!! Own it! Just let it be your friend. The places you will go without being scared will free you beyond belief.

I sit comfortably not telling her anything though. If I had followed my dreams at 17, I would probably never be here making sawdust. And I LOVE using timber.

And in that year, I found the Ball Gouge.
And everything changed.

What is your favourite Arbortech tool and why?
THE BALL GOUGE!! Absolutely my favourite tool. It changed the way I worked and continues to show me what it is capable of. That element of the Arbortech tool is quite wonderful. You buy the new thing and use it. Then six months later, you discover that the idea you have been wondering about can actually be achieved with the very same tool. It goes along for the ride with you. This thing that feels like an extension of your hands keeps giving you more at the same rate as your skills grow. It doesn't get much better than that really!! The Mini Ball Gouge is a good one too. They're ALL good!! It's like asking to choose a favourite child! HA!!

If you were a type of wood what would you be and why?
What wood?! This is something I have never been asked before! I'm having a laugh! Ok, what would I be.. I have said that I like how Sheoak looks a lot like the stretch marks I got with my three pregnancies! Sheoak is STUNNING. There is a lesson in that I think. But as far as a timber, I think it resonates with me personally, maybe something like Minirichie. A variety of Acacia. It is a hard timber and has gone through a lot of hardship to survive in its environment. It grows slowly and has a rather unruly appearance. To work this timber requires a bit of focus. It can have many faults, but if you can find your way around all of the challenges it presents and give it time, the end product is something that will bring a smile to your face.

To learn more about Pene Turner, follow the links below.

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