Some people’s stories are destined to be entwined. Selwyn Holmes’s ship, carrying him as a two year old, with his sister and his mother from Canada, docked in the UK only days apart from Danielle’s, which brought her as a child from abroad with her family. The pair attended Kingston School of Art in 1972, where their paths crossed, and stories interlinked. Since putting down roots in the family home in Dorset, the married artists founded Dansel Gallery in Abbotsbury in 1979; celebrating contemporary handmade work in wood.
Originally, the gallery showcased produce from the couple’s workshop in Eype. However, it has grown over the years with some 200 artists now displaying their work, all made from wood. Selwyn has recently moved away from designing practical products and specialises in Spirit Plaques inspired by North American Native Art, evoking visits made back to his birthplace over the years.
This Canadian-Dorset artist feels most at home in the wooden cabin he built, set next to a bubbling stream, nestled among the woodland the couple planted 25 years ago, at the bottom of the garden. Selwyn loves his trees and cares for them year-round. Planting new woodland, coppicing where necessary, using the material for his sculptures and heating the house, this is where Selwyn spends most of his time.
So taken is Selwyn with trees, he and Danielle named their children after the Lime Tree, a favourite in their woodland; Linden for their son and Tilia for their daughter. School governor and Parish Councillor for Symondsbury since 1989, Selwyn is currently combining his skills and interest in history by voluntarily replacing, one-by-one, the dilapidated finger posts in the Parish. Diligently faithful to the original, each one is researched, made from Dorset Oak and replicated in the Dorset Style. A dedication to the much-loved area he lives in and the material he nurtures.