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The Hawkesbury Sandstone Collection is a family of objects made from Gosford Sandstone, on-site at the quarry’s stone yard. The Broached Colonial pieces by Max Lamb represent a major shift in Lamb’s work with stone. The pieces include steps, a table, four stools, and a bench.
  • Materials:
  • Mount White Sandstone, Wondabyne Sandstone
  • Dimensions:
    • Bench x 2: L 1800mm, H 300mm
    • Stool x 8: H 450mm, D 250mm
    • Table x 2: H 1500mm, W & L 600mm
    • Steps x 2: H 800mm, W 200, D 800mm

After an intensive research period in his hometown of London, Max Lamb identified the distinctive sandstone, native to the Sydney Bay area, as a predominant feature of the landscape and a resource readily available upon the arrival of the First Fleet. Lamb traveled to Sydney for one month of development and production focused on creating a collection of sandstone furniture, in collaboration with Gosford Quarries.

At Gosford Quarry Lamb discovered that the overburden boulders, inherent to the quarrying process, had been used to backfill old sections of the quarry. The absence of loose boulders moved the designer towards the creation of a highly refined collection of objects cut from regular ashlar blocks, each one with a direct correlation to his research on colonial period art, the necessary resourcefulness of the first colonists, and the geology and topography unique to Sydney.

Lamb's quarry work demonstrates an ability to make intelligent adaptations of raw blocks of stone into simple usable furniture. Lamb arrives at new quarries without a predetermined set of designs. Available materials, cutting equipment and the relationship he develops with the staff at each quarry drive the generation of each new collection.

The Hawkesbury Sandstone Collection consists of four pieces: steps, a table, stools and a bench.

The steps began as an investigation of Mrs Macquarie's Chair. On visiting the site Max discovered that the seat was so large it required steps to lead up to its various levels. The steps to Mrs Macquarie's Chair resulted in an investigation of sandstone steps around Sydney, finally leading to research into freestanding stone steps, such as horse mounting steps.

The table references the sandstone rock faces exposed along the shoreline of Sydney Bay and within the city. Over time rain erodes the organic sediment dividing the layers, turning the sandstone into what appears to be a series of varying scaled blocks and slabs. The table represents one of these slabs - as if pried from the rock-face using a crowbar.

The stools directly reference seated figures in colonial period paintings. It is often the case that people are seated on wooden stumps, which appear to be the off-cuts from a non-furniture related process. In a highly active environment, where few comforts existed, the creation of permanent furniture was necessarily secondary to food security and shelter.

The bench takes its inspiration from another useful element Lamb discovered in the Sydney Botanical Gardens: the natural sitting place created by the protruding roots of mature fig trees. The sprawling, exposed roots, combined with the shade offered by the large canopy, provide a perfect resting spot.

To get a vantage point via steps, to have somewhere to place documents or food, to sit independently or as a group - these are the essential activities that the Hawkesbury Sandstone Collection by Max Lamb provide for. Elemental forms made from one of the most beautiful natural resources in the world.

Max Lamb

We knew it was essential to have a British designer involved in Broached Colonial Commissions. Max Lamb was perfect for several reasons: his simple, sometimes crude but ultimately functional stone furniture fitted perfectly with so much of our research into the colonial period. Adaptive use of natural materials that lent themselves to practical purposes was essential during the first years of the colony, and this is exactly how Lamb approaches his work in quarries – searching for stones that lend themselves to being transformed into a seat, a table or a bench.

Max Lamb, born in the UK in 1980, grew up in a bucolic seaside town in Cornwall, England: an upbringing that imbued him with a love of nature and a creative spirit. This led him to explore materials by re-contextualising them in both conventional and unconventional ways. He exploits the inherent qualities of his materials and reconsiders their function. Lamb designs products that stimulate a positive three-way interaction between product, maker and user, through a visual simplicity that effectively communicates the obvious function of each piece.

After completing a degree in Three-Dimensional Design at Northumbria University, Lamb went on to receive a Master’s Degree in Design Products from the Royal College of Art, London, in 2006. A frequent lecturer and design workshop leader, Lamb currently lives in London where he continues to develop new designs that challenge the traditional concepts of the materials he uses, and the processes with which he manipulates them.

All pieces were cut and finished by the stonemasons at Gosford Quarries. Gosford Quarries was Max Lamb’s first choice of a quarry partner, due to the fact that Lamb’s research revealed that Governor Arthur Phillip explored the area during the first year of settlement. For Lamb, this provided a crucial connection between his idea of creating furniture pieces that represent the furniture needs during the first months of settlement and the present. Gosford Quarries is Australia’s leading sandstone producer, active since 1922, and is widely recognised for its expertise in all areas of quarrying, processing and supply in the residential, commercial building, landscaping, civil and restoration markets. Gosford Quarries owns and operates eight active sandstone quarries around Australia.

The main factory is located at Somersby on the Central Coast of NSW. Over five acres, Gosford Quarries have one of the largest and most modern sandstone works in the world, the largest in Australia. Gosford Quarries use state of the art machinery including four Gang Saws, a 5 Axis Bridge Saw, and a programmable diamond wire saw that can cut 3-Axis up to 2.5m. The wire saw was used for the cutting of the arc shaped bench. During the last few decades, Gosford Quarries’ involvement in projects such as the Hilton Hotel Sydney, Governor Phillip Tower and the Commemorative Museum, and winning international architectural awards for excellence, have elevated the profile of the company and increased its success.