Hikerdelic Inner Circle: Gareth Batowski

Gareth can build you anything out of wood and is also one of the founding members of On The Brink Studio in Stockport (we chatted to a few more members too so there's more to come on that). He chatted with us about how he jump-starts his day and how Ash wood keeps him up at night.

How do you set up for a good day/ good work environment?

The first thing I do in the morning is put the coffee on. I’m an early starter. If I can be in the workshop at 7am, its a good day. The roads are quite and the air is cool – especially on hot days! In the winter it’s different - no one should work in the winter. Peh. But summer time – work like a bee! And after the pot of coffee is finished around 9am, I’m effing flying. The floor has been swept, the previous clutter left from the day before; hung out to dry and the cogs are as oiled as a well oiled machine. In winter its different – no one should work in the winter. So to answer your question: between April-October an early start and a good gulp of fresh air. Between November and March I hibernate like everybody else, with plates of cheese and shepherd’s pie.

 What are you working on at the moment?

There are always plates spinning. Currently on small wobbly sticks rotating in the breeze are a number of exciting projects. In the workshop is a huge wardrobe 8ft tall by 5ft wide, modelled on an old steamer trunk. You know the ones? There is stuff in the doors as you open it. There are a set of 5 drawers in the doors on one side and the other space for shoes which open up for handing space and more drawers. I could have made a simple box with two flat doors and coat rail inside - but that’s not my style! It’s very technical and very cool. Each door will weight 150kg and is made from beautifully fragrant English felled cedar and poplar.

Alongside this I am working on a taproom in Manchester for Balance Brewing And Blending – this is way exciting and I’m putting into place design ideas and textures which have been in my head for years. There will be a wooden screen, akin to stain glass windows found in old pubs, made from a variety of different English timbers. There will be high gloss red, textured walls stained with Yew colourant and buffed, reminiscence of tobacco ceilings or Japanese lacquerware - all framed in raw, sawn English oak. It will be a Blend of a nostalgic feeling with a very real, very modern bar AND there wont be a drop of birch ply or OSB anywhere!

Oh and there is a supersonic ground floor project happening along side all this too! A handmade English timber kitchen and room divider for a top chef in Manchester – designing her kitchen of dreams!

What drew you to working with wood & what are you looking to for inspiration at the moment?

Ever since I can remember I have always worked with wood – my dad was a big inspiration there. We would make model boats, aeroplanes, castles, cars, go-carts, crocodiles, canoes from the stuff and thankfully after eighteen years of the grind - I am still doing it today. I’ve taken an organic route to where I am today – mostly self taught – meaning I have strong roots and resilience with the ability to adapt. The ideas that keep me awake at night currently are looking at and exploring Ash as a timber, using its structural property with its ability to flex massively without snapping. I like this. I dream of different scenarios I could use it in – I am entering a chair into a competition in July 2023 which has a sprung backrest made of 2mm ash strips. So cool! So comfy!

Do you have any more workshops lined up / what did you take-away from the last ones you hosted?

I have just completed a set of workshops, making stools – this was so much fun. I love meeting people and encouraging them to make something, something they can take home and use and will be with them for years to come. Allowing them to use big tools and machines which can seem daunting because they’re so noisy and dangerous but always in a safe and controlled way. I know they’re safe and controlled but I like people to feel a little uncertain, it wakens the spirit no? The plan is to always host workshops for useable items that people can take home. Next up will be a breadbox – originally it was a three day affair but I have streamlined the experience for a long Sunday with lunch provided. I’m looking forward to this for sure – The finest English quarter sawn oak breadbox. Crumbs! Supersonic!

What do you want to create next?

 Something special.

You can check out more of Gareths amazing work here https://www.onthebrink.studio/workwork and he's wearing the Material Worth tee in Off White