I began to turn wood in England in 1970 at the age of 26 and after a successful career in the London wine trade.  I was never a hobby turner.  When I decided to turn wood for a living late in 1969 I knew nothing of the craft other than it involved a lathe and tools with long handles. I reckoned that if I enjoyed the craft all I had to do was develop good technical skills and marketing, and I’d earn a decent living selling what I enjoy making. And that that’s what I’ve done since mid-1970, first in England, then, from 1982, Australia. Being the only turner juried into The Craftsman’s Art, a seminal exhibition in London in 1973, was a great boost to my career as that led to my bowls being in a lot of major exhibitions and on the British Crafts Council Slide Index Selection Panel from 1973 to 1980.

In 1970 I had to create a market for the one-off bowls I inevitably produced as a novice, but after two sales trips I got repeat orders. I was turning utilitarian bowls, scoops, and plates that sold to kitchen, gift, and souvenir shops; and I also sold a lot of delicate bowls, scoops, and boxes to gift shops and craft galleries. I never needed to consign work and that’s why I’ve seldom had work in American galleries. Moving to Australia in 1982 was risky business-wise because I had to start over in a new environment, but fortunately that didn’t take too long.

I began teaching formally in 1978 when Highland Craftpoint, in Scotland, employed me to advise embryo craft businesses in the Highlands and Islands. Apart from that I did very little teaching until I became a regular presenter for Dale Nish at the Utah Woodturning Symposiums in the 1980s; then demand took off after my book and video Turning Wood with Richard Raffan were published in 1985. Subsequent books and videos increased requests for me to lead workshops, and, although I enjoy teaching, it’s only ever been ancillary to my woodturning business  and a welcome change from my workshop routine occupying about six weeks each year.

I am proud of the fact that, unlike so many in the arts and crafts community, I have always been able to earn a good living by selling what I make — I never had to teach to get bread on my table.  After nearly forty years of production turning I opted to spend less time at my lathe and spent a couple of years creating whimsical little boats and other stuff using wood and found objects.  

Now in my mid-seventies I still turn a few bowls and boxes, do the occasional demonstration and symposium, and comtemplate building a tacking proa when snooker, tennis, and cycling allow.




Richard Raffan has work in many public and private collections including:  British Crafts Council, London;    the New Parliament House and National Gallery Collections, Canberra; The Power House Museum, Sydney;  Victorian State Craft Collection, Melbourne;    Major group and one-man  shows include:

2017       Kansas City, MI + Saint Paul, MN: American Association of Woodturners Waves of Grain

2016        Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney: Treecycle

2015       Framed Gallery, Darwin One-Man Show

2012   AAW Symposium, San Jose, California, USA.  Richard Raffan Retrospective

2011     Ohio Craft Museum, Columbus, Ohio, USA. Boxes and Their Makers

          Sydney Botanic Gardens, Sydney.  Artisans in the Gardens

             Wausau, Wisconsin, USA. Boxes and Their Makers

2010     Sturt Gallery, Mittagong, NSW. Richard Raffan  + Terry Baker: Casting Off

             Sydney Botanic Gardens, Sydney. Kauri Project

             Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, Massachusetts, USA. Boxes and Their Makers

             Narek Galleries, Tanja, NSW. One-Man Show: More Than Bowls

2009      Messler Gallery, Rockport, Maine, USA. Boxes and Their Makers

              Narek Galleries, Tanja, NSW. Masterpieces in Wood 3

2008      Canberra. Treasures in Timber

2007      Melbourne. Still Life: An Exhibition of Fine Wood Design

              Philadelphia, USA. Coming of Age: Emerging and Established Wood Artists

              Tanja, NSW.  Narek Galleries. Masterpieces in Wood 2

2006       Melbourne. Living With Wood

               Sydney, Botanic Gardens.  Artisans in the Gardens

               Kilkenny, Ireland. Crafts Council of Ireland. Tracing The Line

               Grafton, NSW.   Artsfest

2005        Melbourne.  Woodworks 2005

                Tanja, NSW. Narek Galleries. Masterpieces in Wood.

            Bungendore Woodworks, NSW. Richard Raffan +Terry Baker

2004         Darwin.  Framed Gallery. Paprika Coloured Country.

                 Provo, Utah. Beneath The Bark.

2003         Bungendore, NSW.  Something Special.

                 Puy St. Martin, France.  Tournage Sur Bois 2003.

2002         Launceston, Tasmania.  Australian School of Fine Furniture. Treeform.

                 Hobart, Tasmania.  Waterside Gallery.  Treeform.

                 Brisbane. Craft Queensland Gallery.

                 Provo, Utah, USA.  Brigham Young University.

                 Canberra. Craft ACT:  Trademarks.

2001         Batemans Bay.  South Coast Woodcraft Awards.  (as judge)

                 Darwin.  Framed Gallery One-Man Show

                 Katherine, NT.   The Katherine Gallery One-Man Show

2000         Canberra .  Treasures in Timber.                  

                 Oldbernhau, Germany.                   

                 Provo, Utah, USA.  Brigham Young University.

                 Canberra, Crafts Council. Strength to Strength.

                 Bungendore Woodworks, Bungendore, NSW. Class Act.

1999         University of Technology, Sydney.  Fusions 99. 

                 Distelfink Gallery, Melbourne. One-Man Show

1998         Distelfink Gallery, Melbourne.  Contemplating the Bowl. 

                 Akron Art Museum, Ohio, USA.  Masterworks of Woodturning.

                 Sydney, Palm House.  Living Treasures - Creative Capital.

                 Canberra, Link Gallery. One-Man Show

1997         Chicago, USA. SOFA Chicago (with Narek Gallery)

                 Warwick University, UK.  Wonders in Wood.

                 Crafts Council ACT, Canberra.  Turning Point.

                 San Antonio Museum of Art, Texas, USA.  Turned for Use.

                 Touring Australia 1997/98.  Wood Dreaming. 

                 Provo, Utah, USA.  Brigham Young University.

                 Saint-Girons, Ari├Ęge, Fance.  Le Tournage sur Bois

1996         Bungendore Woodworks, Bungendore, Canberra.

                 Wentworth Falls, NSW.  Pieces of Importance.

                 Melbourne, Victoria.  Living with Wood.

                 Brisbane, Queensland.  Wood Dreaming.

                 Canberra, Crafts Council. Pieces of Importance.

1995         Wentworth Falls, NSW. Pieces of Importance.

                 Drill Hall Gallery, Canberra. One-man Show

                 Warwick University, UK.  Wonders in Wood.

1994         Provo, Utah, USA.  Brigham Young University.

                 Melbourne.  Art for the Home - Art for the Church. 

                 Canberra. Narek Gallery.  Containers and Boxes.

1993         Melbourne. Crafts Victoria,  Multiples.

1992         Provo, Utah, USA.  Brigham Young University.

                 Sydney.  Australian Craftworks Nikko Gallery. One-man Show

                 Kyoto, Japan.  Asia Pacific Crafts.

1992         Yulara.  Sheraton Ayers Rock Gallery. One-Man Show

                  Darwin. Crafts Council Northern Territory. One-Man Show

1991          Melbourne.  De Gruchy Gallery. One-man Show

                  Kyoto Musem, Japan. Asia Pacific Crafts

                  Bega. Forestry Awards Show (as judge).

                  Provo, UT. USA. BYU Symposium.

                  Beauly, Scotland.  Tools of the Trade.

1990          Melbourne. Timber and Working with Wood (as judge)

1989           Melbourne. Timber and Working with Wood (as judge)

                  Melbourne.  Aspects of Contemporary Australian Woodcraft.

1988          Melbourne, Meat Market. Form and Function. 

                  Touring USA. International Turned Objects Show (ITOS).

                  Canberra.  National Gallery,   Australian Decorative Arts. 

                  Sydney.  Powerhouse Museum. A Free Hand. 

                   Philadelphia, USA. International Turned Objects Show (ITOS)

                  Mittagong.  Sturt Gallery. One-Man Show

                  Melbourne.  Meat Market,  The Stuart Devlin Award 1988. 

                  Buxton, England.  International Woodturning Conference.  

                  Brisbane. International Woodturning.  

                   Provo, UT, USA.  Woodturning Symposium ‘88. 

                  Melbourne Artcraft 88. Craftworks Invitational Award.  

                 Canberra. Narek Galleries,  Wood & Clay.

                  Melbourne.  Meat Market,  Australian Crafts 88.

1987          Canberra. Narek Galleries. One-Man Show

                  Melbourne.  Woodwrights Gallery. One-man Show

                  Walford Mill, Dorset, England.  Pacemakers.

                  Provo, UT, USA.  Woodturning Symposium 87.

                  Melbourne.  Meat Market,   Form & Function Two: The Bowl.

1986          Seattle, WA, USA.  Northwest Gallery of Fine Woodworking.

                  Sydney.  Craftworks Gallery,  Out of the Woods.

                  Provo, UT, USA.  Woodturning Symposium ‘86.

                  London.  British Crafts Centre. One-Man Show

1985          Sydney.  Craftworks Gallery.  One-Man Show

                  Canberra.  Narek Galleries,  Rhythmic Wood. 

                 Canberra.  Expression of Material.

                  Sydney.  Crafts Council,   The Evolution of Style.  

                  Melbourne.  Meat Market,  Australian Crafts ‘85.

1984          Adelaide. Jam Factory,  Turned Wooden Objects.

                  Canberra. Narek Gallery, Profile of Presence. 

                  Hobart.  Crafts Council Gallery. Turnstyles. 

                  Canberra. 10 Years of Australian Decorative Arts.

1983              London.  British Crafts Centre,  Works in Wood.                                                                                                                             

                      Shannon, Ireland.  Irish Woodturners Conference                                                                                                                     

                      Canberra.  Narek Galleries. Richard Raffan -100 Bowls.

1982           Sydney.  Craftworks. One-Man Show: Art Objects for Daily Use

                   Sydney.  Crafts Council Gallery.  Christmas Show.

                   Sydney.  Market Row Gallery. One-Man Show

                  Sydney.  In a Nutshell Gallery. One-Man Show

                  London.   British Crafts Council. The Makers Eye.

          January 1982   Emigrated from England to Australia.

   1981          Philadelphia, PA, USA.  Woodturning Symposium. 

                  London.  British Crafts Centre. Wood & Silver. 

                  Boston, USA.  Westminster Gallery. Woodworks.                                                                       

1981          Sunderland Arts, touring England and Scotland. Wood.   

                  Veste Coburg, Germany.  Ceramics and Wood.

                  Bournemouth.  Horizon Gallery. One-Man Show

                  London.  Harvest Gallery.   Holly Wood in Covent Garden – work by Richard Raffan

                 Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Crafts Council Gallery. Richard Raffan

                  Crafts Council Touring England.  Crafts South West.

1980          Southampton.  City Museum, Alternative Kitchens.  

                 Hamburg, Germany.  Kunsthandwerk Museum.  

                  London.  Sotherbys Craft Auction.

                  London. Parnham at the National Theatre. 

                  Parnham, Dorset. International Woodturning Seminar

1979/80     Touring Europe: Worlds Crafts Council,The Bowl.

1979          London.  British Crafts Centre,   Star Quality.

1979          Brighton.  Ogle Gallery.  Artists in Wood.

                  Sheffield.  City Museum.   Homespun to Highspeed.                                                                                                                                           

                  London.  British Crafts Centre.   Production Crafts.                                                                                             

                  Banbury.  Prestcote Gallery. One-Man Show

                  Totnes.  Dartington Cider Press Gallery, One-Man Show

1978          London. Casson Gallery. Boxes

1977          London. British Crafts Centre. Masterpiece Jubilee Exhibition

                  Melbourne. Crafts Centre, South Yarra. One-Man Show

                  Mittagong, NSW. Sturt Gallery. One-Man Show

1976          London.  Casson Gallery. One-man Show

1975          National Museum of Wales. One-man Show

                  London.  British Crafts Centre.  Crafts 75 - A Survey.

1974          Dillington, Somerset.  Butlin Gallery.

                  Exeter University, Devon. One-Man Show

1973          London.  British Crafts Centre.  Domestic Objects.   

                  London.  Victoria & Albert Museum,  The Craftsmans Art.

1971/2/3   Chagford, Devon.  Chagford Galleries. Richard Raffan