Stephen Barr Brexit cabinet Chippendale school

Brexit divides cabinet

Stephen Barr, one of our recent professional course graduates, first came to the school on a one-week introductory course.

It’s a good way for potential professional woodworkers to see if they really do have sawdust in their veins.

And if they do, and enrol onto our professional course, the introductory course fees are deducted.

It’s a route into woodworking that several professional course students have taken, having proved to themselves that woodworking is the career for them.

For Stephen, originally from Northern Ireland but now living in Edinburgh, it was a bold change of professional direction.

His previous career was in IT consultancy, with his own company, which he sold.

Stephen Barr Brexit Chippendale furniture school

Stephen’s stand-out piece, for which he won this year’s Richard Demarco Prize, was a humorous statement on the vexed question of Brexit.

His “Strong and Stable Brexit Cabinet” was just as divided as the country on the issue.

EU stars

His two-door cabinet in Walnut and Japanese Ash depicted the Union Jack on one door, and the EU’s stars on the other.

Also, one of the EU’s stars was missing…a visual quip about the UK’s intention to (maybe) leave the EU.

In our experience, furniture sells when it’s well-made and carries a design that turns it into a talking point.

Not only was Stephen’s cabinet extremely well made but his fun design gave it topical appeal.

In the run-up to the school’s graduation exhibition, several newspapers – including The Times – carried stories about his cabinet.

At the exhibition itself he was awarded The Richard Demarco Prize 2019.


This annual prize is awarded by Professor Richard Demarco CBE, one of the UK’s leading arts commentators.

Professor Demarco’s prize is awarded to the student whose work not only displays design and woodworking skill but exceptional artistic talent.

Stephen is now setting up Starship Unicorn Furniture from incubation space at the school.

These spaces, Myreside Studios, are another good reason to study at the Chippendale school.

They allow graduates to immediately set up in business and make full use of the school’s equipment and machinery.

They also still have tutor support in case of difficulty in those important early months.

It’s all part of the school’s holistic approach to teaching woodworking and helping our students post-graduation.

Note: Two places still remain unfilled on our professional course 2019/20, which starts next month.  More information here or contact us here.

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