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  • Catalogue Essay

    As a raw material, wax is mutable and renewable: it melts, hardens, melts again. As an artist, Max Lamb exhibits similar properties: his fluid imagination and persistence are hard certainties in the face of design dilemmas. A 2006 experiment in electro-forming copper furniture resulted in various failed wax models, a warehouse fire at Morganic Metal, and a collapsed detergent tank. The conclusion was ‘Copper Stool’, a distorted and blistered seat exhibited that year during his degree show at the Royal College of Art.
     
    ‘Copper Chair’ (2008), a unique work on offer at Phillips de Pury, was Lamb’s second assay in electro-deposition. He writes: "Fascinated by the potential to create a hollow copper structure, I sculpted a chair by hand in hard modeling wax that softens as it warms up, allowing every fingerprint of the process to be visible." The model was covered with a conductive silver spray and bathed for sixty hours in a tank of aqueous copper. In the welter, nanocrystalline particles ‘grew’ a thin layer (0.5 mm) of pure copper around the wax core, which Lamb subsequently melted away in approximation of lost-wax casting. The result is a hollow chair, both lightweight and strong.  
     
    Whether carving polystyrene with a knife, or casting pewter stools from sand moulds cut into a Cornwall beach, Max Lamb is in direct correspondence with process and materials. Much has been made of the ‘atavistic spirit’ among today’s designers, a tendency by some to use hand and hammer as a repudiation of computer and machine manufactured products. The use of copper dates back 10,000 years, the hand earlier, but Lamb is no throwback. His methods are not reversions to an earlier type, they are a continuation of craftsmanship. Through trial-and-error, that fraught province of endeavor, Max Lamb sustains the ageless impulses to push, to pull, and always to build.

112

Unique ’Nanocrystalline Copper Chair’

2008
Electroformed nanocrystalline copper.  
72.4 cm. (28 1/2 in.) high
Hand-made by Max Lamb, UK.  Underside incised with ‘MAX LAMB/APRIL 08’.

Estimate
£11,000 - 17,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £15,000

Design

25 Sept 2008, 2pm
London