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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Richard Timothy (Tim) Stead (1952–2000)

Wood carver, furniture maker and environmentalist. He was born in Helsby, Cheshire, and after completing a degree in fine art at Trent Polytechnic went on to spend a year as a postgraduate student at Glasgow School of Art. His earliest public commission was for the tables and chairs in the Café Gandolfi (1979), in the Merchant City, Glasgow, the first of a series of increasingly ambitious hybrid sculpture/furniture projects that have included the screen, chairs, pulpit and altar at the Kirk of St Nicholas, Aberdeen (1990), and the gallery seating and ‘Peephole’ at the Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow (1996). His work was also included in the landmark exhibition Scotland Creates in Glasgow in 1990, to which he contributed a reconstruction in wood of the interior of a prehistoric dwelling at Skara Brae, Orkney. His concern for ecological sustainability has led to a frequent use of driftwood and recycled timber as a sculptural material, one of the most striking examples of which was a chess board made from discarded railway sleepers (1973). He lived for most of his working life in the Scottish Borders, and in 1996 co-founded the Woodschool hardwood centre at Ancrum, near Jedburgh, which now trades as the non-profit craft collective Real Wood Studios. His final work, Epitaph for the Elm, at South Gyle Broadway, Edinburgh, was unveiled posthumously on 26 June 2001. Tim Stead died of cancer in 2000, and his grave in Wooplaw Community Woodland, Galashiels, Scottish Borders, is marked by a stone slab by Ian Hamilton Finlay, and a carved wooden figure by Eduard Bersudsky.

Bibliography: Anon., With the Grain, information leaflet, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, 2005; (Glasgow) Herald, Arts Supplement, 8 March 2014, p. 8; R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Edinburgh (2 vols), Liverpool, 2018, vol. 1, pp. 170–71, 177, 395–96; Telegraph, 15 May 2000 (obit).

Ray McKenzie 2018