Artist Interviews 2023 | Chainsaw Newton

/ / Artist Interviews 2023

We Asked Chainsaw Newton 11 Interesting Questions About Himself.

What was the inspiration behind your piece for SWELL Sculpture Festival 2023?

Yellow-tail Black Cockatoos.
A uniquely Australian species that the rest of the world can only envy.
I’m luck to enough to see them in my part of Northern NSW but usually only see them before rain.
They always stop me in my tracks to spend the time to see them pass overhead and never in silence.
They’ll always offer a call when they pass as a weather warning to pack up my tools and get my washing in, like they’re a friendly neighbour.
How do they know it’s going to storm?
Where are they flying to?


Is sustainability important for you and your work?

You’d better believe it.
My medium is reclaimed timber.
I don’t kill trees for art.

Even the majority of my tools are reclaimed and repaired.
I learned 3d printing least year to make replacement gears for a 40 year old chainsaw I can’t buy parts for anymore.

What goes in the bowl first… milk or cereal?

If someone else is making my breakfast who am I to argue either way?

When is your favourite time of the day to create art?

Council bylaws say “no powertool before 7:30am”
But i usually give my neighbours an extra hour on that to keep the peace , so I never fire up my chainsaws before 8:30am.
I go non-stop until bloodshed, sunset or I run out of 2 stroke fuel.


Cold or warm weather and why?

In summer I look like a 6’2 giant schnitzel.
-being a woodworker, I make lots of sawdust.
Sawdust clings to sweat and sunscreen really well.
I end my summer work days coated in it.
Give me winter all year round please. (I’m never short for firewood)

What does it mean to you to be a featured artist in SWELL Sculpture Festival?

As the kids say -i got mad love.
4 years ago Swell took a chance on me, my art making and gave me opportunity and a spot on Currumbin beach to show my creativity to thousands of people.

For every artwork you see on Currumbin beach know that there are hundreds of works and ideas that didn’t make the cut. That weighs heavily on me.

Every year I try to outdo my previous years entry and offer something worthy of competing against world-class sculptors and artmakers.

What is your easy-to-watch movie?

The Big Lebowski.
It’s got theological discourse, life lessons, home decor tips and a good soundtrack.

What was the biggest challenge you faced during the creation of your artwork?

I broke my neck last year.
I don’t yet have the strength or flexibility I used to before.
I own big old chainsaws I can’t physically can’t lift anymore.
My biggest challenge this year is knowing which limitations I can push and which limitations to heed.

If you are having a ‘cuppa’ is it tea or coffee?

The closest I ever get to tea is when woodchips fall into my coffee.
My favourite cafe is only a block away. I’ve discussed the feasibility of running underground coffee pipes to save me time.

What is the best compliment for an artist to receive?

Kids interest.
It’s fleeting , it’s unpredictable, there’s no telling what they’ll like. They’re the purest of art critics.
But I once had a toddler hug the leg of my sculpture and it made me break down in happy tears.

Second compliment is people wanting to touch my work.
I get it. The urge to touch objects is primal.
I know the signs say not to , but if my work compels the viewer to break rules I’m very flattered.
I spend hours/days sandpapering and refining my wood form. If touching my work let’s you enjoy it more, that time I spent wasn’t wasted.

If animals could talk, which one would you want to talk to?

I’ve got a blue parrot named Iggy.
He has a huge crush on my vacuum cleaner.
I just want to ask him why and if he knows who chewed the buttons off my TV remote.