My Favourite Wooden Object

Maplewood Scrolls

Alison Brooks

These carved maple wood scrolls, each about 30cm long, hang as a pair on a wall in my living room. They formed part of my mother’s collection of 18th- and 19th-century “Canadiana”, which is the unassuming name for the art of Canada’s early settlers.

My mother loved the graceful lines of these scrolls and the way they very faintly echo the work of Grinling Gibbons, one of her all-time artistic heroes. They seem to be baroquely modest, or modestly baroque, which is quite an achievement.

The scrolls are also a memento of a trip we made in 1985, while I was still a student, to visit England’s historic chapels, National Trust houses, gardens and ruins. It was also a pilgrimage to places where we could see Gibbons’ thrilling work. Although the carving could be considered crude, these scrolls’ lyrical forms and slight asymmetries hold treasured memories. They convey a kind of joy in making that no other decorative object in my house can match.


Alison Brooks, Alison Brooks Architects