The Chair Woman
STORY BY RICHARD CORNISH
Forest surrounds Tanya Baricevich’s studio. Here she works in timber. Beautiful timber. Lustrous Tasmanian Sassafras. French Oak stained from the fortified wine it was ageing with. Hardwood timbers salvaged from the Outback. Timber she has searched for in storerooms and warehouses. Pieces of timber that will become beautiful furniture. Chairs. Tables. Homewares. I sit in a carver chair, a twin from a series she made for a client. Everything about it seems right. For a start it is rock solid. I mean that there is no movement in at all. It has the perfect weight for its shape. When you sit in it the proportions seem perfect. It is comfortable without being overly cosy.
“I do not follow trends,” says Tanya as she shows me through her home. She shows the kitchen as an example. The kitchen cabinets are classically proportioned yet not one style. They would fit into a Georgian or early Victorian house as easily as they would a modern home or the mud brick cottage where she lives. They are timeless. I open a drawer. The steel runner is state of the art and gives the piece a beautiful resistance to the hand when opened and closed.
There is a stunning round side table made with a beautiful slab of native hardwood, split and ‘bookmatched’ so the rough outside edges sit facing each other. A natural gap in the uneven join reveals a perfectly turned wooden ball underneath. “When I make a piece for someone I like to talk to them,” says the softly spoken Tanya. “They will have a piece in mind that will be very contemporary,” she explains. “I then find out what they are really after,” she says emphasizing the word ‘really’. “We then work together to create something that they actually need, that will fit in their home and will function as planned.” With that she shows a video of a three butterfly leafed table she made for a couple, the movement of the internal leaf as it swings out to extend the table verges on the balletic.
There is no waste of natural resources in Tanya’s business. The offcuts of the beautiful timber she spent so much time selecting and sourcing are turned into beautiful and practice home wares. With great care and consideration she turns the timber into delicately tapered rolling pins.
In the hand they feel perfectly balanced and ‘right’. Her candlesticks are extraordinary, seemingly pulled from a great piece of wood they are whimsical and characterful in their own special way. She also makes particularly beautiful Christmas decorations that she is selling online and at the Castlemaine Twilight Market.
While Tanya claims she has no allegiance to any one style or fashion she does have a soft spot for early 20th century modernism. In her office she has an unusual and beautiful art deco desk. Shortly she will be taking a sabbatical trip to Paris to study art noveau furniture. “I really want to see where this trip takes me,” says Tanya. “I want it (the furniture) to lead me to new discoveries. But in the meantime she is madly working through her Christmas and summer orders.