Deep in the Wood Work with Tamara Harding

Trees sprout up from the earth- fed by the soil, maintained by water, and given energy from sunlight. They expand- extending toward the clouds, stretching branches and digging roots deep and wide. Development and a myriad of human ventures see many trees being cut. But isn’t it a wonderful thought that somehow we can keep these trees in our spaces after they are cut? So they can somehow continue to add that powerful earth element to our spaces. Tamara Harding, the creator of Mara Made Designs may have had this thought, resulting in what may be among the most remarkable pieces of functional art in the world. A body of work which emerged in shapes and forms from trees – “Blue Mountains to Mocho.”

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Photos courtesy of Tamara Harding

“The magic begins before the tree is cut,” she said with excitement shining through her eyes.

Walking into her workspace, you’d first see sawdust like snow, huge blocks and trunks of trees. You’d see strong men paying close attention to the instructions coming from a relatively smaller frame assertively guiding the team- clothed in overalls and protective gear. You would then receive the warmest greeting in a cheerful tone, accompanied by a beautiful smile from the leader of the team. That is the duality that is Tamara “Mara” Harding.


Tamara speaks to us in her living room, opening up about her journey as a dyslexic tomboy with a high IQ. A child who absorbed information a little differently from most- but clearly had the ability to express it in ways that were nothing less than clever, original, and inventive. “Being dyslexic was almost definitive of my nature. It required me finding other ways to get things done. I had to work on the traditional ways of learning, and creating.” A deep appreciation and exploration of her whole self as an individual was also another defining quality of Harding. She describes herself as the teenager who cared about her nails and ballet, but also thoroughly enjoyed playing competitive water polo. This “ebb and flow” of her nature, as she calls it, is what she flows over into her creations. It was a moment of awe, discovering that “Mara” was not formally trained to do what she now does. She was not trained in woodwork, metalwork or visual arts- yet she creates some of the most stunning pieces to be found in homes, restaurants and boardrooms all around Jamaica.


Deepak Chopra speaks of the fact that “…even when you think you have your life all mapped out, things happen that shape your destiny in ways you might not have imagined.” This is likely to have been the case with Harding. After being involved in the business of doing home renovations, followed by running a successful advertising agency with her husband, Zachary- she still experienced what she described as a “feeling of urgency- like time was running out.” The feeling of urgency came along with the feeling of a need for a more holistic and deeply purposeful, passion-filled day to day kind of productivity. In response to these prodigious changes, after five years of operation and tremendous growth- the doors of “Agency 20Seven” were closed. The closure of her corporate business operations allowed her the time and silence- which gave way to her spending more time with herself and more time for mindfulness in nature, which allowed a creative awakening. An inspiration which prompted her to act- gaining momentum, propelling her love for creating to where it has now become a booming business driven by passion and purpose.

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And like a tree, she is rejuvenated by nature with her feet in the soil, at the beach or rivers, her soul being maintained by water and absorbing energy from the sun’s rays. She is expanding- extending toward the clouds, stretching and digging roots deep and wide.

Deepak Chopra speaks of the fact that,“Even when you think you have your life all mapped out, things happen that shape your destiny in ways you might not have imagined.”

The work by Mara Made Designs speaks for itself- when you experience it, you will feel it!|P

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