After studying Fine Art at Newcastle Polytechnic, I started work in the special effects department at the BBC - here I met Sarah Gibbings, who worked as a set designer. In the early 1990’s we first had the idea of leaving our jobs at the BBC to set up our own business, with a shared aspiration to make a living designing and producing our own work. In 1994 we first started selling our work at Greenwich Market, London. This created the opportunity to develop our own individual style whilst also getting constant feedback from our customers. We attended our first trade exhibition in 1996.
When we were first looking for an idea for our business pewter as a metal wasn’t an obvious choice, and I knew very little about it. In typical use a metal might have qualities such as strength, lightness or economy. Pewter is soft, heavy, and very expensive (the fourth most expensive metal in general use after platinum, gold, and silver).
Nevertheless, the first time Sarah and I experimented casting a small piece using pewter at home in our kitchen, I was struck by how we had been able to produce an item in our own style, with a feel of quality, whilst not having to invest lots of money in stock or equipment (a necessity at the time). A few attempts later we started to get an idea of the degree of detail that could be reproduced. A few more molds later and we started to understand, and really like, the way different textures could be used.
Ever since, I've played with the degree of detail pewter gives to create the range of unique and intricate designs 'Lancaster and Gibbings' sells - whether it is smarter, simpler designs, or more decorative ones. The thing I love most about pewter is seeing how, by using different shapes and textures, the first casting of a new design reacts to light once it's been polished.
Having established the business in London, and with small children demanding more space and time, in 2000 we relocated to Totnes, Devon from where the business continues to operate.
Inspiration can come from many sources - an art exhibition, a current trend, the English countryside. The underlying theme is the significance of texture and the way it responds to light, as well as a desire to tap into quintessentially English design.
Having been so significant to the start and early development of the business, in early 2004 my late wife Sarah lost her battle to cancer. It is a tribute to her that what she set in place back at the start of the business continues to support the raising of our children.