Celebrated artist and wood sculptor, Tim Stead, may be best known for public works such as the Millennium Clock in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, the furniture in Glasgow's Cafe Gandolfi and the North Sea Oil Industries Memorial Chapel in Aberdeen, but his masterpiece is closer to home.

The Steading, a 16th century farmhouse near the village of Blainslie has been described variously as "an inhabitable sculpture" and "the supreme example of Stead's work."

Art historian Julian Spalding, who as director of Glasgow's Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), commissioned Stead in 1996 to create the über-enveloping wooden Peephole for GoMA, puts it this way: "Every surface [in The Steading] looks as though it has been felt, and is full of feeling."

Stead, who died in 2000 at the age of just 48, poured his heart and soul into creating an interior which envelopes everyone who enters the 16th century farmhouse near the village of Blainslie. Every surface; from the floors to the staircase, to the sink, to the facing on the oven to the fireplace to four-poster beds and the cover of a fuse box is fashioned from reclaimed wood.

In his workshop beside The Steading, the artist developed his radical use of wood, becoming famous for furniture that expressed its material as much as its function, a break-through that inspired a whole new generation of makers and, just as significantly, ecological planners.

Stead and his wife Maggy bought the property in 1981, the same year that Stead, a graduate of the Glasgow School of Art, created a chair for John Paul II’s visit to Scotland as Pope.

It wasn't long before Stead had stripped the interior back to a shell to begin the process of creating a masterpiece in wood. Although it was a constantly-evolving process, the bulk of the modifications were made each July, when his wife Maggy took their children, Sam and Emma, to her native France for a month. Had he lived, who knows what additions might have transpired?

In 2014, Stead's widow, Maggy Lenert, looking to release funds to allow her to retire to France permanently, reluctantly invited an estate agent to value the property. According to Nichola Fletcher, a close friend of the couple and now chair of The Tim Stead Trust, the estate agent walked in and, like most people on viewing the interior for the first time was bowled over.

Fletcher explains: "The estate agent told Maggy that he wasn't sure that The Steading should go on the market and that she should explore other options. That was the turning point which led to the creation of The Tim Stead Trust a year later.

"Maggy said we could have five years and then, if the Trust had not secured the £895,000 required to buy the house and run it as an artists' residence and workshop to keep Tim's significant example of craftsmanship and environmental philosophy in the public domain, then she would need to look at selling it on the open market."

Despite tireless fundraising and awareness-raising among relevant national organisations, until recently, it looked like this priceless artwork would end up being sold. Lenert, was willing to sell the house for £450,000, well below market value, but her funds were exhausted a year earlier than the Trust anticipated, so a last-ditch appeal was started to save the house for the nation.

The Tim Stead Trust still needs to find significant funds to buy the property, but in the last couple of weeks, an intervention from Historic Environment Scotland (HES) saying it is now looking to deem the building to be of Category A status, looks like it could give The Steading the legal protection it needs.

Fletcher adds: "HES have just put out for consultation its intention to A-list The Steading. This means it regards it to be of national and international importance, which naturally delights us since this is what we have been saying all along. So we really are talking about a masterpiece.

"The Trust regards Tim as the 20th century equivalent of Charles Rennie Macintosh in terms of his influence in the field of furniture design in Scotland and the house is the supreme example of Tim Stead's work. It's like a diary of the way he evolved in his work.

"We also have a large archive of his work in addition to items in The Steading such as his hand-made diaries which he kept all his working life. There is also a good body of poetry and digital photography which he created latterly."

According to art critic and Tim Stead Trustee, Giles Sutherland, who has written and edited two books about the artist, the house is unique.

"I'm not sure if there is anything like The Steading anywhere," he says "It's a work of great imagination; a great place for people to share. There is a tension between design and function which leads to it requiring more maintenance than most houses.

"Most artists' legacies are portable but in Tim Stead's case, his legacy is integral to this house, which is why it is definitely worth saving."

Tim Stead is buried in Wooplaw Wood, which is a short walk from The Steading. He helped drive the bid to establish Wooplaw as Scotland's first community woodland in 1987.

He was so focused on establishing Wooplaw as a community resource that every day in 1986, he made a wooden axe-head and sold them these to help raise the £40,000 required to purchase the wood.

More than 30 years on, could there be a more fitting tribute to the tenacity and artistry of this ground-breaking maker than to have his seminal work of art preserved for future generations to enjoy?

As Julian Spalding puts it: "Tim used to say that he wanted his furniture to look as though it had been worn down with years of caressing. In creating his home, Tim was caressing his family, his friends and his life. That is why it is such a rewarding and unforgettable sight. This inside world is full of love."

For more information on Tim Stead and the campaign to buy The Steading, see http://timsteadtrust.org/

Critic's Choice

For the last three months, visitors have been pouring in to Street Level Photoworks gallery in Glasgow to view the first major exhibition of Oscar Marzaroli’s photographs in his home city in over thirty years.

Marzaroli, who died in 1988 at the age of just 55, left behind a vast body of work; much of which had never been seen in public before. Last year, more than 50,000 photographs taken by the Italian-born photographer were donated to Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) and Street Level has worked with his family and GCU; scanning original negatives to bring the work to a broader audience.

Some of Marzaroli's photographs must count as being among the most famous images of Glasgow ever created. Photographs such as The Castlemilk Lads and The Golden Haired Lass, taken in the early 1960s, have achieved an almost mythical status but this exhibition, which has been extended to due to popular demand, offers a glimpse into the depth and range of his work.

This exhibition features over 80 photographs – many of which have never been seen before – as well as his cameras and contact sheets. An extensive range of subject matter is embraced through Marzaroli's noticing gaze. It's a privilege to zero in on portraits and landscapes the length and breadth of Scotland during a time of seismic changes in society when city slums were being cleared to make way for new social housing and the old ways in Scotland's rural parts were fast disappearing.

He also documented the cultural life of Scotland, photographing major figures such as Hugh MacDiarmid, Alasdair Gray, George Mackay Brown, Sorley Maclean and Joan Eardley. Alongside the great and the good, there are portraits of remarkable people known in their own communities. A must-see!

Oscar Marzaroli, Street Level Photoworks, Street Level Photoworks, Trongate 103, Glasgow G1 5HD, 0141 552 2151, www.streetlevelphotoworks.org, open Tue to Sat, 10am–5pm, Sunday,12pm–5pm, December 7, 2019 – April 5, 2020. Free

Don't Miss

When she graduated in drawing and painting from Edinburgh College of Art in 2015, I remember being struck by the power of Madeleine Gardiner's large landscape paintings inspired by a childhood spent in the lee of the Trossachs.

Five years on she is still chasing the light in a her first solo exhibition in Edinburgh; building thin translucent layers of paint to create depth, both of colour and scene. Combined with thick layers of beeswax which are incorporated and left to dry, each painting takes longer and longer to complete, which, says the artist, suits her method of working on several paintings at a time.

Madeleine Gardiner: Luminance, Saorsa Art Gallery, 8 Deanhaugh Street, Stockbridge, Edinburgh, EH4 1LY, https://www.madeleinegardiner.com/ Until March 10, 2020. Open every day from 10am–6pm.