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Uist filmmaker hopes to release work that could help save a woodworking legacy

Tim Stead used woodworking to shape an extraordinary home. Now, Beatrix Wood is making a film to help preserve it. 

A woman with a professional film camera set-up talks to a man in a garden.
Filmmaker Beatrix Wood at work on Tim Stead: Magician With Wood. Photo supplied by: Beatrix Wood/TrixPixMedia

An island filmmaker is launching a crowdfunding campaign to release her latest film.

Beatrix Wood’s film on woodworker Tim Stead will be ready to go with some financial backing.

Artist Tim Stead, who passed away in 2000, made some of the most extraordinary woodwork Scotland has ever seen.

Focusing on unique, organic forms, his pieces include everything from the National Museum of Scotland’s millennium clock to a chair for the Pope.

But perhaps his most valuable work was his own family home. The Steading in Blainslie, near the Borders town of Galashiels, is filled with one-of-a-kind furniture that Stead made for his wife and children.

A living room filled with bespoke wooden furniture with fluid, organic shapes.
One of the rooms at Tim Stead’s family home in Blainslie. Photo: Beatrix Wood/TrixPixMedia

When Tim Stead’s widow Maggy needed to sell the house, however, it looked like the Steading might be lost — so the Tim Stead Trust formed to raise the funds to buy it.

The mission to protect the Steading has been documented in a film – one made at the other end of Scotland.

Filmmaker Beatrix Wood recently moved from Uist to Dumfries to be closer to her family. But, before then, she has spent the last four years putting together the feature-length documentary Tim Stead: Magician With Wood in a small studio in South Uist.

‘Labour of love’

It’s been a “labour of love”, she says. “It’s been done with basically no resource except goodwill and passion.”

So, how did a filmmaker in Uist become part of the fight for a Borders artist’s legacy?

Hands hold a tiny notebook filled with sketches for woodworking projects of Tim Stead
The documentary features many glimpses ‘behind the scenes’ of Tim Stead’s work, including these notebooks. Photo: Beatrix Wood/TrixPixMedia

Beatrix’s appreciation for Tim Stead’s work began long before she started work on Tim Stead: Magician With Wood.

Before she moved to Uist, she worked in a green wood business with her husband in Cornwall.

A keen green woodworker, her husband decided to visit Maggy in the Steading.

“He came back home, and it was like a lightning bolt had gone through him,” she says. “It totally changed how he worked with the trees and the tools.”

‘It was like a lightning bolt’

“Instead of following really traditional templates and patterns, he just began to work much more free form with the organic shapes of the trees.”

Years later, Beatrix saw that Maggy was struggling to decide the future of the Steading. She asked for permission to make the documentary.

“I’d seen the impact of Tim’s work on my husband, and I believed it could have that impact on lots of other people.”

‘Prompt discussions’

After years of work, the film is almost complete. But, with “no budget”, Beatrix is having to fight for the funds to see it released.

A crowdfunding campaign for the “last push” will launched in December. With support, she says the film could finished by February.

After that, “It’ll be a case of really fleshing out the marketing and distribution plan,” she says.

“So looking at which independent cinemas and theatres we could show it in, [and] organising Q&A screenings.”

“There’s already one community organization who’s asked us to do a screening for them,” she says.

A woman sits facing the camera in a unique wooden chair.

Tim Stead’s widow Maggy Stead tells her story in the documentary. Photo: Beatrix Wood/TrixPixMedia

‘I feel like a lot of rural stories get marginalized’

The Steading is a celebration of Tim Stead’s work, both in art and in the community. But, Beatrix says, it’s not about putting him “on a pedestal”.

Instead, it’s about inspiring others.

Beatrix hopes the film will “work as a catalyst to encourage other people to develop their creativity, in whatever style, and to become involved with their local environment”.

“It’s a bit of a call to action,” she says.

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