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This article was published 20/2/2015 (829 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
They asked J. Neufeld for a conference table that "screamed Manitoba."
And since it's not every day someone is calling the Winnipeg-based woodworker for a piece to put in Canada House in London's Trafalgar Square, Neufeld set to telling the province's story in furniture.
First, it had to be sturdy. It had to be resilient. And it had to last.
Neufeld had the answer.
"Nothing said Manitoba to us like oak that has been standing 200 years on the river, surviving floods and winters," said Neufeld, the owner of Wood Anchor Studios. "We wanted to showcase some of the shape of the tree with the bell shape at one end of the table, and the beautiful long cracks which wind their way, similar to the Red River."
Those cracks are formed by frost checks, said Neufeld, which are created in the depths of a Manitoba winter. Neufeld joined those cracks with butterfly connections.
"They act like bridges," he said.
The table is part of a large-scale revitalization for the Canadian High Commission, the country's diplomatic mission to the United Kingdom. On Thursday, Queen Elizabeth officially reopened the building.
Also present was her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.
Neufeld's conference table, featured in the Manitoba Room, is one of hundreds of pieces of art and hand-crafted furniture being showcased from all provinces and territories.
Winnipeg multimedia artist Denise Prefontaine also contributed to the renewal, creating five custom carpets evoking a variety of Canadian landscapes. Prefontaine's blue Manitoba room carpet is based on digitally altered photos of light and shadow falling on a pristine snowscape.
"It makes you proud to have your work shown and to be part of showing that we are a creative nation," Prefontaine said in a press release.
"There's no limit to what we can do here," added the graduate of architecture at the University of Manitoba. "It's a great country in which to be an artist."
Gordon Campbell, Canada's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom who has personally overseen the project, said ensuring Canada House tells the story of not just our country, but of each province and territory, was essential to the plans.
"Canada House is our front door to the United Kingdom, and from the very start, I wanted to use this terrific location to showcase the very best of Canada and to ensure that we sourced unique pieces that reflect the diverse talents from every corner of our country," he said. "I hope all of our visitors will agree that we have succeeded."
Other key pieces from Manitoba to be featured at the revitalized Canada House include visual art by Paul Béliveau, Wanda Koop, Sarah Anne Johnson and Miriam Rudolph, a ceramic piece from Lin Xu and a credenza by Matthew Kroeker.