Part of the appeal of vernacular furniture is that in order to understand it one must look closely at social history and lifestyles that are at some levels primitive and at other surprisingly sophisticated. If not always high art, veracular furniture proves beyond question that limited resources need not exclude aesthetic quality, nor need the functional imperative exclude beauty and charm.
To appreciate some Scottish vernacular furniture we have to enter with sympathy into the world of crofters in a bleak landscape up to two hundred years ago, a world that has ceased to exist. Other Scottish pieces come form a setting of prosperous Lowland comfort.
In writing this book, Bernard Cotton investigated museums and libraries; but whenever possible he and his wife Gerry made it a priority to see pieces in their contexts, to meet the people who used them, and to understand how they were made. The story of their quest is itself an adventure, and the objects he photographed often represent the life and death of a community, the vital relics of a vanished culture.
Over the years Scots set up home in widely scattered places thorughout the world, and furniture of the various types examined in this book can be found today in North America, Australia, and New Zealand.
Bernard Cotton is cofounder of the Regional Furniture Society and the author of The English Regional Chair.