The Erasmus School of Creative Arts, or ESCA, was established in January 2010, completing four years of planning and building. It is a small, privately funded and run teaching facility owned and operated by Neil and Pam Erasmus.
Neil and Pam Erasmus are professional designers, makers and teachers of fine furniture. Their teaching studio/workshop is situated in the picturesque, forested Hills area of Pickering Brook, thirty minutes drive from Perth’s CBD in Western Australia.
Neil was born and raised in South Africa, where he was mentored in the art of furniture design and making by his father, the highly regarded Andre Erasmus, himself a second generation maker.
In 1981, at the age of 27, Neil immigrated to Canberra, Australia with Pam and their young daughter. Here Neil soon set up a workshop, undertaking commission work for embassies, government departments and collectors, and making speculative exhibition pieces for the famous Beaver Galleries, with whom he also worked closely on commissions.
Soon after their arrival in Perth in 1985, Neil began passing on his skills to Pam, who created a small range of furniture that she sold through galleries around the country. In addition, Pam also ran the ‘Introductory Woodcraft Course for Women’ at the Australian School of Fine Wood (ASFW) where Neil had been teaching since 1997. It was at this time too that the couple set up their own, private, teaching program taking students through several set projects and mentoring on a one-on-one basis.
This highly successful teaching venture was subsequently wound down due to a growing order book for commissioned work, and increased student numbers in a space that struggled to cope.
In 2005 and 2006 Neil and Pam moved to Tasmania where they directed the prestigious Australian School of Fine Furniture, before returning to Perth to set up their own, dedicated teaching facility and to work through a growing order book. During this time, Neil was again asked to teach and manage the Diploma of Arts, Furniture Design course at the ASFW in Dwellingup, where he was appointed as its senior lecturer and teaching three days a week.
Neil’s knowledge and skills of fine furniture making and teaching ability have facilitated travel to many parts of the world. Neil is a regular instructor at the excellent, Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Maine, USA, and has even taught, one-on-one, in Auckland, New Zealand.
Over their long careers, Neil and Pam have won numerous awards for their furniture, the most recent being Studio Furniture 2010 at Bungendore Woodworks Gallery. Their work can be found in public and private collections around the world. Writing is another of Neil’s passions. He writes regularly as a contributing editor for the Australian Wood Review magazine on topics that range from projects to exhibition reviews. He plans to write a book of his own – part fiction, part fact and part memoir.