Brent is keenly aware of how the local history has shaped his story. Brent’s grandfather worked in the shipyards transporting workers, which at its peak employed 14,000 workers. Douglas-fir, found in abundance, was the original ship building material, and this industry coupled with the export of lumber formed the backbone of the developing local economy. Throughout Brent’s work, west coast materials are celebrated; fir, cedar, maple, stone, for their importance in our cultural past. Our local community was formed through the evolution of skill and an accumulated knowledge of materials, and that influence is still visible through to the present.
Through the use of fir timbers to create Pale Shadows, Brent pays homage to this primarily antiquated building material. Wood as a material engages you, you can understand its origins, and connect with it on a personal level. Found in timeworn buildings throughout Vancouver, large Douglas-fir posts and beams from decades ago still stand, acquiring a handsome patina. With the large-scale stacked posts of Pale Shadows, Brent wanted to reintroduce the material back into the surroundings in a modern context.
Inspired by traditional joinery, the Crown Table series also embraces Douglas-fir as an exceptional woodworking material. Three dimensional timbers of equal size are assembled together like a puzzle, and held in place by gravity. At a scale reminiscent to traditional timber frame construction, the joinery is ultimately concealed, while the materiality and craftsmanship are emphasized.
A historic part of Vancouver’s redevelopment was renovating former warehouses, removing the original short, square posts. Observing that these solid wood beams held value yet, in both their quality and history, Brent purchased some to produce benches. Working in garden design at the time, the resulting Saddle Bench was one of the first items to define Brent’s body of work, and divert his path towards furniture and sculpture.