Errington School of Woodwork and Design, Vancouver Island British Columbia
Woodwork classes, Vancouver Island, British Columbia
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Peter Leonard Bailey – Principal Teacher

Peter Leonard Bailey was born in Yorkshire, England, in 1941. His first formal instruction with metalwork and woodwork tools was with Messrs. Garfield and Rainer at Archbishop Holgate's School. Both these men were fine craftsmen and they encouraged him to become more involved with the practical arts, however, it is his uncle, Tom Ashton, a renowned woodworker, engineer and boatbuilder, who is credited with having taught him most of what he knows.

At the age of eighteen, Peter went to York as a student at St. John's College, where there was a strong tradition in art, craft and design.

Peter Leonard Bailey, instructor at the Errington School of Woodwork and Design
Working with an iron spokeshave
– a most versatile tool.
Photograph – Jose Azel

There he spent three years of intense study in both metalwork and woodwork, under the close scrutiny of the head of the school ‘Accurate’ Jack Edbrooke and his assistant George Cramer. These men provided Peter with a vast amount of experience with various tools and materials. They tested his endurance and patience and taught him about his capacity for work. Those two men still influence the way in which Peter works. It was George Cramer who encouraged him to pursue his interest in art and design.

From 1962 to 1964 Peter taught woodwork, drawing and pottery at The Royal Wolverhampton School.

He spent the next three years as a full time student at the School of Art in Wolverhampton, studying sculpture, painting and stained glass. While there Peter was influenced by Charles Pulsford who inspired his drawing and painting. Another of his teachers, Patrick Reyntiens, the stained glass artist, showed him how the appropriate working environment for the artist has a definite influence on craftsmanship.

At the age of twenty-seven Peter immigrated to British Columbia and continued his career in teaching.

When you talk to Peter Leonard Bailey about his craft, and the way he makes things, he will refer you always to the people from whom he learned. He will tell you that the greatest influence came from Tom and Charles Ashton. It is they who figure in his first childhood memories of making things.

Peter will tell you that it was because of his experiences as a child that he was recognised by Hank Garfield and Eric Rainer as a boy with potential. He will tell you that George Cramer was generous with his time, and that his friend Arthur Godfrey was forever supportive of his ambition.

He will say too, that when he works at any task, he imagines that ‘Accurate Jack’ is at his elbow, or behind his shoulder. No apology or excuse for shoddy work will be forthcoming with Jack about.

It would be too difficult to itemise all the different influences on Peter's life. He has worked in many places, always making things, always learning, always sharing his knowledge. From England and Canada Peter has ventured as far away as New Zealand and Niue, Tonga and Hawaii, Alaska and Maine. Like the island Peter originates from, all these places are maritime.

Perhaps it is because Peter has an unquenchable passion for the sea and for boats that this itinerary was realized. An accomplished sailor and navigator, Peter sailed the Pacific Ocean for many years.

Having practical skills like woodwork and metalwork made it easy for Peter to travel and earn a living. He enjoyed teaching others these skills and was always amazed to discover how much teaching enhanced his own learning process, since a lot of knowledge is inevitably simply exchanged in the every day course of life.

Since 1990 Peter has called Vancouver Island his home, working in various aspects of things maritime; surveying and measuring vessels, demonstrating traditional boat building and teaching navigation and seamanship. All the while he has continued to design and produce a body of work.

In 2003 Peter established the Errington School of Woodwork and Desgin. There he continues to design and make beautiful objects. Peter teaches woodwork at the school, working with small groups of men and women, in all aspects of the craft from the very simple to the most complex.

Throughout his life, Peter has never lost sight of his goal, to produce useful and beautiful things. He is fascinated by tools and materials and the design process.