IT is the third longest and fastest-flowing river in Scotland that is one of the most famous salmon and sea trout fishing watercourses in the world.

Running for 107 miles, the River Spey, which winds its way from the Cairngorm mountains through some of Morayshire's most beautiful scenery, is home to some of Scotland's high quality whisky distilleries.

Now an international renowned furniture designer has paid his own homage to the river by creating a bench.

But this is no ordinary bench. It is a work of artistic furniture sculpture, which Aberfeldy designer craftsman Angus Ross says was inspired by all that the river stands for, from its flow to the fishing.

The Spey Bench which has been created from steam bent olive ash, and is priced at £12,000 was unveiled at the Saatchi Gallery in London for Collect, the craft sector's premier showcase, bringing together galleries, artists and collectors from around the world to present a fresh array of established and new talent.


Speaking from Collect, Mr Ross said: "Our workshop and woodland are on the banks of the River Tay and rivers are a great source of inspiration.

"Historically and psychologically rivers connect rural places to the wider world and they have a unique energy, movement and light. For this bench I turned my thoughts to the River Spey – famous across the globe for whisky and salmon fishing."

Mr Ross, who is one of 15 makers showcased by Craft Scotland from yesterday in an exhibition running to Sunday, has built his reputation on shaping and folding timber in the same way that an artist will create a sculpture from stone.

"The Spey Bench started with the physical process of steam-bending – literally coaxing and pushing planks of steamed wood over formers to create the desired line," he explained.

READ MORE: New bridge over the River Tay to be funded as part of £350m Tay Cities Region Deal

"The elements were then traditionally jointed but this process was quite complex due to the angles involved. The form of the bench evokes the flowing river, the angle of the rod and the loops of line formed during fly casting."

The creation along with those of the Craft Scotland makers received a rave review from Dr Mhairi Maxwell, assistant curator at Scotland's first design museum, the V&A Dundee.

He said in an article for Craft Scotland: “The makers in the Craft Scotland showcase at Collect 2019 are the alchemists of our time; carving, casting and creating new traditions, ideas of value and material possibilities across all disciplines. This showcase is craft and design at the boundaries and should not be missed!


"Drawing on a range of different influences and fusing together very different techniques, all 15 makers represented are working to create striking new forms and materialities which deliberately defy definition, including furniture maker Angus Ross and his super-natural use of folding and steam bending……”

It is not the first time Mr Ross has been inspired by rivers to create new benches. The award-winning Tay Bench is a flowing ribbon of steam-bent Perthshire oak forming an arm-rest for what is a love-seat, while the Forth Bench is similarly styled from an Old Castle Wood oak and features hand-turned stretchers.

After a background in product design for mass manufactured products for the British High Street - often in plastic- Mr Ross re-trained in woodwork and furniture-making to find greater job satisfaction.

Based in a studio-workshop in Aberfeldy, Perthshire and a co-owner of a beautiful mixed broadleaf woodland there is a now a close relationship between the two.


Mr Ross says the woodland is actively managed to provide sustainable wood for furniture making, whilst improving native bio-diversity while allowing rights to roam for the public.

A small section of overcrowded oak trees - generally unsuitable for traditional furniture making - led to his "deep exploration" of the ancient art of steam-bending.

He said that each year a few trees are selectively felled "allowing in more light to improve the growth of the remaining trees and increase diversity on the woodland floor".

He said: "The butts are carefully assessed and selectively milled. The timber is either air-dried for steam bending or kiln dried for traditional cabinetmaking. The previously neglected veteran trees provide richly coloured characterful oak."