Tell us about yourself, how did you become a furniture maker?
I was born in Sydney and some of my early schooling was in South India. After high school I worked for four years in a variety of jobs including cleaning, oyster farming, sound recording and antique restoration. Around 1981, I was working in a boat-yard in Sydney for Ian Smith, potter, sculptor and boat-builder who introduced me to the world of craft and designand inspired me to study furniture design. The Tasmanian School of Art offered the most exciting education for me at that time so I moved there and ended up staying for 14 years, establishing my own studio and design practice along with having four kids, a goat, a few sheep, chooks and building houses in a small rural community south of Hobart. During this time I spent five years as a Design Consultant in the furniture manufacturing industry for Chiswell before moving to Adelaide to Head the Furniture Studio at the JamFactory from 1997 to 2000.
Have any of these people had a specific influence your way you approach to making? If so, how?
Yes, all of them in a way, along with many others as I draw my influences from every aspect of life I encounter and these people are pertinent in my thinking at the moment.
Martin Puryear, for his subtlety of form and the relationship he has developed between materials and craftsmanship
Wade Davis for his global perspective, cultural respect and ability to connect ideas of ancient wisdom with today’s technological culture.Tom Blake as someone who created a “lifestyle” from observation and creative thinking and his ingenious innovations of the hollow surfboard and fin, life buoys, underwater camera, and the windsurfer.Rodrigo y Gabriella for their virtuosity and innate connection in collaborating with each other and Herzog’s obsessive dedication to his projects and attraction to extreme characters and the “obscure”.
The momentum for this body of work started with some time in Dale Velzy’s studio in California in 2003 a couple of years before he died, around the same time that Grubby Clarke’s world wide foam blank monopoly came to an end.I was in San Diego again at the time of Velzy’s memorial and paddle-out with about 2000 surfers from around the world, which inspired me to get going seriously on the wooden boards. There are a number of ideas in this body of work from ecological considerations like material choices, production methods and quality through to lifestyle and the combination of art,craft and design coming together through a direct “hands on” process.To my way of thinking, there is valuable knowledge embedded in hand made objects to do with time, observation and the senses that cannot be communicated in any other way.
Is there any specific collections, museums that you have found inspiring and why?
Gerry Wedd and Phil Hayes are both artists and surfers with a history of involvement in Australian surf culture from Mambo to the mainstream global giant of Quiksilver. Gerry is a ceramicist and image-maker and Phil is a painter and print-maker. Stephen Bowers‘ analytical illustrations combine the historical disciplines of Chinese Willow pattern with contemporary social commentary, while Quentin Gore, an industrial designer, brings artisan sensibilities to industrial technologies.
In this body of work you also have introduced the fire as a method to provide a new affect on the surface of the board,can you describe the process and why the use of fire was pertinent for these works?