Since I can remember I’ve been creating objects in some form or other –
its the one common link in everything I’ve done. In the 1990s it was floristry and taxidermy (I formally studied in both). Floristry took me to regional Australia and later Canada to compete in floral designing competitions – the curse of floristry is that everything you create ultimately dies. The challenge of taxidermy is to create the illusion of life into something that is dead. It lead me to horticulture, so I went back to TAFE again. All the beauty of floristry but my designs and creations got to live longer. In 2008 I was a happy landscaper at Tallebudgera Sport and Rec. camp on the Gold Coast. A work accident there left me with 3 ruptured discs in my lower back and soon after that I was diagnosed with acute adjustment disorder. The depression/back pain and no creative outlet nearly killed me.
I enrolled back to TAFE in a few computer courses and I volunteered at a local Maritime museum just to fill in my week, get out of my own dark moods and get out of the house. I stumbled across carving. First it was clay, then Hebel stone and then wood. Carving wood lead to bigger wood carving and ultimately in 2014 I picked up a chainsaw and tried my hand at carving wood with it. That was my eureka moment. Wood has life, its got character and charm and a mystery all of its own that takes creativity, imagination, skill, and a fair bit of luck to uncover.
I’m never going to master it , I’m never going to conquer it and for that reason I love it. This is what I was meant to do. This is my medium. Since then I’ve spend my days covered in sawdust and smiling like an idiot. There is no TAFE course for chainsaw carving so I use Instagram and YouTube for tuition and inspiration instead.
It has lead me to take life drawing lessons to improve my figures and lines. It’s lead me to start selling my work and earning money selling my wood sculptures. It’s lead me to push myself outside my comfort zone, take creative risks and a desire to show myself creatively. Ultimately I’m hope to be able to earn a living doing what I now love.
2020 SWELL ARTWORK – Five Fathoms Deep, Christian Newton
The deep-sea diver character I named Flotsam Bob and am inspired by the pearl divers of Broome. A century ago, pearl shell was a valued commodity and Australia lead the world in its supply. My light-hearted interpretation is designed to capture the imaginations of young and old. The head of my diver character suggests a pearl and his body is carved from a composite of reclaimed timbers and flotsam. My sculpture features an illuminated sphere to represent the different cultures that sought their fortunes in the pearling industry.
SWELL Kids Artist Statement – Five Fathoms Deep, Christian Newton
With his helmet snug upon his head.
Big Bob explores the deep sea bed,
He finds treasure as the ocean whirls,
In the form of precious oyster pearls.
And if you’re wondering how Bob came ashore,
He was carved from wood with a big chainsaw!
Come and see for yourself at SWELL Sculpture Festival, Pacific Parade, Currumbin 11-20 September.