The Wall in the Wilderness – Tasmania

A relative of a friend was a £10 Pom and now lives in Tasmania.   He introduced me to this work which is amazing.

It is carved in flat-relief out of Huon Pine by self-taught sculptor Greg Duncan and is telling the history of the Tasmanian Central Highlands. On massive wood panels 3 metres high. Currently there are 35 panels on display in the hall. When complete, The Wall will have a total length of 100 metres! (That’s 50m per side.).  These are just some of the many pictures available on line.   There is also a video that is well worth watching click on Video



















































The building housing The Wall in the Wilderness is purpose built and is a magnificent structure both inside and out. Classical music wafts around the room at just the right level so as not to intrude on one’s gaze, instead adding to the incredibly relaxing atmosphere in the gallery.




David Nash – A Personal View by John Adamson

I saw some of David Nash’s work on tv the other day, and thought I would share my memories.

Back in the late 90s, I was a “rather older than the rest of the year” sculpture student as the University of Central Lancashire in Preston.     There was a request for students to provide free labour to set up an exhibition by David Nash in Gawthorpe Hall, Padiham, Burnley.    Back then I could not look him up on Google, and I did not have the time to go to the library before joining the group at Gawthorpe Hall, so did not realising the size if David’s work.     I turned up in sandals when everyone else was in walking boots to protect their toes.   I had to answer to Sandals for that day and weeks after, back in the studio.     My impression was that the work was very BIG and DIRTY.     The burnt items came wrapped in clingfilm and we got covered in charcoal as soon as we took this off.      The work came on a lorry adapted to carry slate.     The front was an articulated lorry and the back was from an ordinary wagon to give greater pulling power, a strong frame and less difficulty negotiating tricky bends.

If you know my work, you will see why I am attracted to David’s.        This abstract art rather than representational, and on a large scale.     I rather doubt that there is any glass paper used in the finishing of his work.   It is about the shape rather than the detail or the finish.   Here are some images of his work.

This is very much as I remember David Nash and his work, but it is not at Gawthorpe Hall












Again, this is very much as I remember David Nash’s work, but it is not at Gawthorpe Hall














This looks a bit brutal











I am not sure about the size of these, but assume that they are chainsaw carved













More chainsaw work






















I like the way that with simple cuts David finds interesting surfaces and shapes.    His childhood holidays were spent at Blaenau Ffestiniog , where later David helped clear and replant a nearby forest that his father owned.  He also worked for the Commercial Forestry Group and learned about wood of many kinds and that he hated planting trees in rows.   It must help to have that experience and access to lots of Big chunks of wood.




















John Adamson on Planning a Wood Carving,

This is a report of a meeting on 15th July 2017

John Adamson shared his knowledge from a lifetime of woodcarving. His motto for carving was “Planning time is cheap, time for doing corrections is expensive.”

John encouraged us to consider several things before we start to carve.

  1. Think carefully about perspective especially if copying from a photograph.

    The item in the photo may be foreshortened, such as in an animal’s photo taken from the head end the back legs will be shorter than the front; or a photo of a person taken from above will appear to have shorter legs than in real life.  It may be more obvious on this box than on a real animal.  Even street scenes can have slightly curved vertical walls to the buildings.

  2. You need several photos or plans from different view points. A photo from above is not always available. Children’s plastic animals can be bought at charity shops, etc. If needed, very accurate plastic models of animals ,etc are available from Schleich.

  3. Making a clay model, if only a rough one, can help you to plan the whole or just a part of the carving. A small rough part model is good if you need to work out how something “works ” e.g. the folds of a dress” .

4 Check movement of the legs and arms in relation to the spine movement in the spine brings life to your carving. Look up Google “Zoological Skeletons” for accurate side views of animals. This is a good source for getting the right proportions. John also recommended Resource Box 2 in our library – a collection of useful items.

5 Plan how you will hold the carving whilst working on it, such as leaving a part until the end just so there is always a place to clamp.


6 Consider how you will display your model when finished. E.g. What sort of base does it need, Will your relief carving be viewed from above or below. A carving should look good from whichever angle you look at it.

7 Having thought of perspective, drawings, display, holding, and maybe a model, bring it all together and begin carving.

John finished his very informative talk by giving us many other little tips for carving including the use of cardboard cutouts to check the measurements of your carving against the original model or drawings

Scandinavian Flat Carving by Nick Pantelides

This a report of a meeting in June 2017

This is a Scandinavian flat plane carved self portrait of Nick carving a flat plane figure.  The carving style has a history stretching back to viking days.  It had fallen out of favour for some centuries but restarted in the 17th century as a folk art.   In the early 1900s, it was discovered by the art world as it, like the best impressionist painting, captures in a few bold strokes the essence of the subject.  It is a style of carving that is more popular in America than the UK.  The figures below are all Nick’s work.

The tools and wood used are cheap, simple knives, pine or fruit woods, and watercolour paints or acrylic paints thinned to be like watercolour.   In a skilled carvers hands, the work is quickly produced, and many variations may be made from a basic design.   Almost any sharp knife can be used, although there are some knives advertised for this style of work at really crazy prices.  Nick recommended an Eric Frost Mora carving knife as being a reasonably priced and having a good try part steel blade which will keep its edge if treated and sharpened right.  There are of course safety considerations.  The usual rules about not carving towards your own body are difficult to apply when carving wood held in the hand, and Nick recommends a thumb guard made from an old leather glove.   You are not likely to stab yourself as the cuts being made are small and do not have a great effort behind them.

There are only 4 main cuts,

A push cut as below where a small slice of wood is taken off near enough with the grain

A paring cut which is like a push cut but is towards the body

Both of the above need a stop cut to stop the wood splitting away further than is required.

The slice cut is used to make a groove in the wood to say, suggest a fold in fabric.

The most important point made was the need for sharp tools.   Dull or blunt tools are dangerous because too much effort has to be put into a cut.   We spent some time on sharpening

The profile of the blade of the knife needs to narrow to a point.   Do not use a grinder as the human hand is not steady enough to be accurate.   If a little light buffing on a strop is not enough to bring the knife back to sharpness, find the flat planes on the sides of the blade with a stone.

Painting is with acrylics thinned down to the consistency of water colours to give the washed out authentic look.  Start with the lightest colours, so that any bleeding into an adjacent area can be covered with a darker colour, or stopped with an undercut.   All that is need to finish is a light wax.

In all the above there is no mention of glass paper, and it is not required as the beauty of the style comes from the flat planes created with a knife