Presenting seven women designers and makers at the forefront of contemporary woodworking. The exhibition shares the diverse perspectives and approaches to the art of woodworking across sculpture, jewellery and furniture, and highlights the profound skill and material understanding of these makers.
Alongside an intrinsic respect for timbers' materiality, each maker presents a determination to carry forward the craft of woodworking through innovative and expressive design.
Centring women woodworkers in a discipline historically dominated by men, the exhibition also makes a statement: to make visible the work of women designers and makers and build a more sustainable, equitable and inclusive future.
Take a virtual tour of the exhibition.
Alexsandra Pontonio's Biplane Sideboard is a study in ‘lightness’
Referencing box kites, biplanes and objects that float, the sideboard features vertical parallel struts, lightweight fabric sails and long, horizontal planes. However, unlike its flying counterparts, the sideboard’s resolve lands as a functional furniture object - a storage vessel.
Made using both traditional and modern woodworking techniques, the sculptural elements of the sideboard are as tactile as they are usable, and a continuous timber grain runs from handle to leg. The American White Ash offers a shimmering, wide-grained and coarsely textured surface. Sadly, this timber is threatened by the invasive Emerald Ash Borer Beetle. Their larvae feed on the phloem (inner bark) tissues and have the potential to kill an entire forest of Ash within six years of infestation. To both protect the uninfected population of the tree and preserve timber stocks, many Ash forests have been prematurely felled. With the species’ future uncertainty, Pontonio chooses to preserve this felled timber in the form of furniture, admire its beauty and enjoy its working properties.
Biplane Sideboard, 2021, American White Ash, Naturally dyed canvas, 2500 x 400mm
Anke Kindle's Nipple Brush Brooche series is a collection of wearable brushworks exploring the preciousness of timber and the notion of the brush as a political object symbolising women’s work.
The timbers for the series were carefully selected for their embodiment of climate and story, as well as their working properties on the lathe.
Huon Pine is a slow growing timber found in the wettest parts of Tasmania and features tight growth rings depicting each season. Exploited by early settlers and shipped to England as building material, it is now as rare and precious as gold. Macrocarpa was planted in paddocks by the early settlers as shelter for livestock and has been coined the ‘poor man’s Huon’. It displays a unique texture akin to skin. River Red Gum lines the banks of the Murray River and features heartwood as red as blood. The piece Anke has in this series was saved from a demolition site and displays nail holes like wounds. The Buckland Walnut came from an orchard plantation left behind in a valley, forgotten by the spoils of the gold rush. It’s surface ripples and glimmers like water.
Each timber section tells its own story, a story as precious as jewels.
Nipple Brush Brooches, 2021, River Red Gum, Huon Pine, Macrocarpa, Buckland Walnut, sterling silver, white horsehair, dimensions variable.
Chi Yusuf's Daily Rituals table and stool is dedicated to sitting in the presence of oneself and confidently asserting one’s place in the world.
Taking the form of a vanity table, a furniture piece traditionally used by women, the piece celebrates the breaking of traditional expectations placed upon a woman’s hands; the soft curves of echoed circles are contrasted by a sharp waterfall edge, and structurally reinforced by the compartment that holds things closest to our heart. Made from American Walnut, the installation features mitre joinery with an ebony inlay.
Black leather lines the drawers and the legs have been hand-turned on the lathe. The matching leather upholstered stool mirrors the anatomy of the table.
Daily Rituals, 2021, American Walnut, leather and ebony, dimensions variable
In Laura McCusker's Overpass table, the simplicity of form belies the complexity of the structure.
The top is held in place and braced against the subframe by the edge detail which acts as dovetail. The tapered legs locate the top and lock it in on the horizontal plane. The natural, seasonal movement of timber has been allowed for with the express join that runs through the centre. This also visually ‘lightens’ the table as glimpses of light and shade dynamically play along the negative space as you move around the table. The result is a table that looks simple and light, and yet is self-supporting and stable.
My furniture is designed to be taken for granted. To be loved and neglected in a familiar way. Form follows function, but there is delight in the detail and materiality. There is a concrete overpass along the highway at Cornelian Bay that I pass every day on my way to work. It is beautiful and yet I suspect I am the only one who notices - Laura McCusker
Overpass, 2021, Tasmanian Oak, 2100 x 950 x 730 mm
Linda Fredheim's Bag series is a continued exploration of the function, form and associations of storage and collecting.
For Fredheim there is something special about opening a box, case, cabinet, or drawer and discovering what’s hidden inside; she is fascinated by how we use these objects to create a sense of order and is particularly intrigued by Japanese Tansu and European Campaign furniture
The designs for five handbags were inspired by the form and colour exercises undertaken by students in the Bauhaus introductory course. I envisaged a series of strong, geometric objects each with a minimalist and industrial feel, and chose materials not typically used for bags – Tasmanian Blackwood offcuts, rubber and colourful neoprene fabric. I started the designs at my bench using just a ruler, protractor, compass, and pencil to make a series of cardboard and paper prototypes. Slowly, through trial and error, I refined the shapes and mechanisms, balancing the need for functionality against my desire for a visually simple form - Linda Fredheim
Bag series, 2019 – 2021, Tasmanian Blackwood, rubber, neoprene, dimensions variable
Makiko Ryujin's LOOP installation is a series of wood-turned sculptures inspired by Tōrō; traditional Japanese lanterns found in Buddhist temples.
The light of the Tōrō was thought to illuminate paths and guide the souls of the deceased towards peace. Significant to the lantern was its structure and the embodiment of the five elements of Buddhist cosmology: chi (earth), sui (water), ka (fire), fū (air) and kū (void or spirit). Together the segments expressed the idea that after death our physical bodies would return to their elemental form. Nowadays, most Tōrō are used as decorative objects in Japanese gardens, and although they may no longer guide souls, they continue to carry a spiritual presence and encourage reflection.
In this series, I have used the lathe and fire to transform discarded timbers and give them new meanings - a sculptural reincarnation - reflecting on cyclical themes of time, space, death, and life - Makiko Ryujin
LOOP series, 2021, River Red Gum, dimensions variable
Olive Gill-Hille's Kilcarnup Coffee Table is sculpted from fallen Marri trees salvaged from farms in the Margaret River region in Western Australia.
The table is significant to place in both material and form; Marri is a eucalyptus exclusive to the South-West region of Australia, while the object’s silhouette references surrounding geography and landforms. Working with Marri in its unruly, solid-state is physically involving and specialised woodcarving tools and techniques were used to manipulate and sculpt the material. The coffee tables’ form suggests the Margaret River coastline and the striking limestone rock formations found along Kilcarnup beach - a location of personal sentimental value and a source of creative inspiration.
A significant aspect of my practice involves working with local timbers. This ables me to minimise my carbon footprint, and take a stand against deforestation of old-growth forests - Olive Gill-Hille
Kilcarnup Coffee Table 2021, salvaged fallen Margaret River Marri, 1200 x 600 x 450 mm approx. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery Sally Dan-Cuthbert
Installation photography by Michael Pham