Born in 1947 and raised in Kent, Jeremy Turner’s rural childhood has deeply influenced his career as an artist, sculptor, and woodcarver. The gardener working on his parents' smallholding taught him how to use a pocket knife to make bows and arrows from hazel sticks. Climbing trees and building miniature castles from garden clay were other holiday pastimes.
In 1965 he began studying at the AA School of Architecture in London, then joined the Foundation Course at Folkestone Art School in September 1966 where he made sculptures in ceramics and plaster. During the Sculpture Course at Bristol Polytechnic he began making things with wood, using timber dragged from the river bank that had fallen off ships in the Bristol docks, graduating with a BA in 1970.
Seeking new experiences Jeremy lived six years in Wales learning about smallholding, building, and woodwork. Moving to London in 1976 to train as an art teacher he became a woodwork teacher in a Hackney secondary school. He left teaching to run a joinery business while still making time to continue making sculptures. Then, after meeting his new partner, he migrated to Gawcott, Buckingham, in 1984, where he began his woodcarving business with the assistance of the government Enterprise Allowance Scheme. This has grown into a career making carved woodware, letter cutting for house signs and memorials, teaching woodcarving in Adult Education, delivering art projects in schools, producing Public Art commissions, and continuing his artwork.
Currently, he teaches woodcarving one day a week and continues to explore the effects on the artwork of his visits to India: a month in 2019 working at the Global Art Festival in Gujarat and three months making giant sculptures at the International Artists Symposium in Odisha in 2023.
Carving wood, particularly relief carving and making carved objects, is, for me, a natural extension of the penknife whittling skills learned in my rural Kent childhood. What later got me started in my woodcarving business was a gift from Mexico of a carved and painted wooden fish. Admiring its crude vitality I knew I wanted to make things like this. I had been already plundering the folk art traditions of the world. My first carving was of Comet Kahoutek, in a style influenced by Mexican folk art on a piece of firewood. Then I learned about woodcarving on a summer school course with Howard Raybould, whose work I admired, following this with a cabinet-making summer school course with Robert Ingham, principal of the John Makepeace Furniture School. Wood as a material, the tools to cut and shape it, the making of objects, having to work slowly and deliberately, then adding color to the play of light and shade over the finished piece - all of this grounds me through the tools and skills I use, and connects me with the earth that provides the material I use. To support my artwork I have collected many photograph albums of wildflowers, trees, butterflies, and frogs. Along with studying natural forms, I seek ways to express concerns about current issues: from our predilection for shopping, the quest for satisfaction, our sexual desires, the cars we inhabit, and the myths that drive us, to growing anxieties and concerns about human conflict and the increasing threats, through war and climate change, to the delicate ecosystem we all inhabit. Besides making sculptures and objects, I continue to develop my drawing work as a parallel means of expression.