Monday, July 20, 2009

From rotten wood

Timber never stops giving really. We are very lucky to have a small remnant of rain forest about 6 kms from our house. Some of the trees are 600 years old. Recently we have been lucky to see this patch of forest through the eyes of a Japanese visitor, two young boys and their father and other older friends from the cold south. Each time we walk the paths of that place we hope to share the magic of the place and hope that the place will inspire or just give a sense of awe and peace to those we share the trees with. And each time I am struck by the light and shadow that moves in that place.

On a recent walk with the boisterous boys (8 and 11 years) – so we did not see many of the shy marsupials – we discovered many beautiful fungi growing on the wet and rotting wood. The boys were really into the shapes and colour of the many black bean pods that littered the ground. Their father and I were fascinated by the variety of fungi.

It reminds me that even with decay the wood of dead trees continues to provide surprises.

I just love the detail, the light and the small sacred fan shapes and bowls that the fungi provide to hold miniature flowers and crystal clear water.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


As I have said on my blog timber is a significant element of my sculptural work. I have quite a lot of salvaged off-cuts of timber stashed in various places around our yard; but needed some really large pieces for the November exhibition. David Linton of David Linton gallery salvages and mills timber locally so I was able to wander his paddock and identify logs that I wanted milled for my pieces. So a ute load of 200mm by 200mm and 300mm by 300mm short lengths were delivered a few weeks back.

I also could not resist the temptation to get David to mill eight 350mm cubes for me out of a rose gum log. They are beautiful – not quite sure what they will become yet???
I have started to use some of the 200mm by 200mm pieces – as you can see from the photo it does pose a challenge when sawing with a hand saw – but I can really recommend the one in the photo. Though it did take 15 minutes to cut through the hard and dry timber – good for the arm muscles I think.

I got a local group of timber fiends called the Woodies to do some turning for me in preparation for creating a few elements of pieces – I always love the way the timber shows its beauty with a bit of cutting, sanding or turning


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Art Path

In my last blog I mentioned that I have been working with Edith-Ann from the Hinterland Business Centre on a piece of public art in the form of a concrete path. Six large concrete panels (1.8m by 1.8) depict various aspects of the history of the Maleny hinterland. Each of the panels is separated by a .9m by 1.8m plain panel that will provide path users with points to pause and ponder the path but also it helps the subject matter of the bigger panels to stand out.

The idea of the path was conceived Edith-Ann but given the size of the project I offered to help with mixing concrete, working in the colour and at times suggesting some design elements and technical solutions.

So far we have completed 5 panels that depict: the formation of the mountains through volcanic action; the formation of the rivers of the area; the growth of the trees; the pathways of people criss-crossing visiting and working in the area; and the industries operating in the area today. We have yet to do the central panel on first people of the area (the Gubbi Gubbi Aboriginal people). We will be doing this panel soon in partnership with a local Gubbi Gubbi elder. The photos show some of the details of a few panels.

The path is attracting quite a bit of local and visitor interest – many people have commented on the individual character of the panels and the use of colour. Launch day can’t be too far away. There is talk of including the path and story of its construction in the up-coming publication Earth Dreams Magic.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A bits and pieces kind of week

What a cold wet and windy week it has been on the mountain. I was meant to be doing the penultimate slab in the public art path with EA during the week but the weather did not encourage us at all so that has to be put off until next week – but the path is a story for another day. The positive coming out of the weather was there was more time for indoor art work. Because it was school holidays Fiona had two of her teenage nieces over to do ‘art with the aunt’ on two different days (different interests and ages meant it was best to work one on one in the studio). Lots of paper making, rusting of paper, teabag art and hand-made books were the go.
It gave me more time to carve up more of the metal from the stash and to do a small trial cube. Also got time to take some timber cubes to the Woodies in Montville to get them to turn a few forms to support my metal beating efforts.

As you can see the small cube turned out pretty well. However I did learn that when I do the final cube I will build the vessels directly on to the cube rather than build it separately and then attach it later – harder to marry up the two final shapes.

I used a cut off disk in my angle grinder to cut up an old rectangular fuel tank I had picked up from the roadside rubbish collection. It was exciting to find the great artistic forms of the baffles and rods in the tank. The cut pieces are art pieces in their own right even before they get worked and married up with timber and rods etc. Life's good.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Beaten metal

I must say I am really enjoying beating copper and brass from the roadside junk stash into bowls to be used as elements of pieces for the November exhibition. Can’t say the work always goes the way I want it to but in the end some of the shapes and patinas are developing well.

It has been quite a lot of fun also working out the uses and patterns of different hammers. I have had to supplement my anvil with a few additional ‘anvils’ made out of pipe and other found objects to create the shapes I want.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

One person's junk is my sculpture stash

Well the work on Fiona and my November exhibition has begun. The focus will be on stillness, the sacred, vessels, peacefulness and celebration. I have working designs for about 15 pieces at this stage – of course the number and the designs will change over the coming months – some things will work and some won’t, some materials will be there and some won’t – so it will be both planned and organic. However I did know that I would need quite a stash of salvaged timber and metal sheeting (stainless steel, copper, brass, rusted tin and aluminium) for the planned pieces. A recent roadside rubbish collection proved to be a bonanza for me.

As you can see from the photos above the metal I wanted was delivered in all shapes and sizes – from other people's junk I have all the metal I need.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Artists collaborate to celebrate history

The attached photos are of a piece called Working the Land. It was done for a Collaboration of Maleny Artists (COMA) exhibition titled Maleny Image 5: a brush with history. To celebrate Queensland’s 150 anniversary of statehood the exhibition sought pieces to depict aspects of the history of the Blackall Ranges. The exhibition is on at Maleny Artworks until 28 July.

The mountains and ranges of the Blackall Range tell us that the land itself is very old. In comparison humans have worked the land for a considerably shorter time. “Working the Land” presents 4 periods of the history of work on the land of the Blackall Range over the last 150 years. The material used to create Working the Land is old and has its own history. The rusted metal and colours of and on the timber represents the earth and the fire that forged the land. The historical sequence is presented on the four faces of the pillar – spiralling upwards from the stone axe, through the metal axe and chains, to the cow bell and barbed wire and ending with modern stainless steel but low tech hand tools. The first workers of the land were the Gubbi Gubbi Aboriginal people for whom the bunya nut had a special place. They were followed by timber getters and pastoralists. Maleny and surrounds became famous for its dairy industry. More recently the dairy industry has been complemented by other producers including sustainable and organic farmers. By respecting and working in harmony with the land it will sustain us.