Antarctic seas and ice, the Great Barrier Reef, woodland and forest trees from Victoria to Queensland can all be seen to influence my work, just as marine and native wildlife also play their part. The reason I mainly use wood is that to me it feels alive; it is not inert. As you work you can feel its sap. Even well seasoned wood can split and crack once it has been carved, revealing more of its character.
So many old trees on the Bay Islands are cut down for housing or need to be removed because they are a danger to people or dwellings. All of my timber comes from this source. I view it as one of nature’s great resources to be used for another purpose, one that changes it from becoming waste or garden mulch into art or craft.
I enjoy the whole process of creation and from the moment a tree is cut I decide how a length of log may be used – although the wood itself sometimes takes control and tells my chisel what to do. The whole design process is exciting and with each piece one feels it may just be possible to capture or create new life from old wood.
As it changes from a log into a three-dimensional piece, revealing the form envisioned for it, I feel excitement as if the spirit of the wood is still within it.“
“Carol” Commenced – 2012
Stone Curlew, Cypress, 800mm, 2011
“Michelle” Tallow Wood 2.5m 2012
Ted Upton started sculpting wood in 2001 but has worked in wood, one way or another throughout his
life. As a boy, just after WW11 in Kent, out poaching rabbits and pheasants for the dinner table he would wander through coppice and woods looking at trees and losing the plot. His great love of trees grew even stronger when living in West Gippsland, Victoria, where massive Blue Gums in the lower valleys led to huge Mountain Ash towering above the dense forests and up finally to Snow Gums. From these forests he gained a respect for the management of trees, of their life cycles, of their need for nurturing, and use – later shown in his care of the old growth forest on his Yeppoon property.
Some of his work is representational as in the dolphins and whales tails he carves. His love of reef fish
and sea mammals comes from living ten years on Heron Island as Manager of Heron Island Research Station on
the Great Barrier Reef where dolphins would leap around him as he snorkelled and whales breach in front of his
outrigger canoe. He also likes to work in the style of medieval wood workers making benches in that time honoured fashion but his free-form work tends towards the tumultuous seas and fantastical ice forms of
Antarctica where he spent several years leading three ANAR Expeditions. His use of, and feel for, serpentine
shapes in wood is powerful.
Ted Upton studied with Donna Littlejohn in Rockhampton. Donna studied with the late, great Tom Bass
“Frenzy” Banksia. 2 metres. “Dolphin” Bloodwood. 1.8metres. 2010
2017 Winner, Acquisitive Sculpture. Redland City “Girt By Sea” exhibition
2014 Winner, Fine Art Sculpture Section, Ipswich Arts Awards
2006 & 2007 Art and Design Dept. CQ TAFE, End of Year Student Exhibition. Yeppoon at TAFE Gallery
2009 Floating Film Arts Show, Karragarra Island.
2009 Macleay Island Arts Complex 28th Annual Exhibition-Winner of People’s Choice.
2010 Macleay Island Arts Complex Annual Potters’ Exhibition, Island Magic.
2010 Macleay Islands Arts Complex, MIAC 29th Annual Exhibition – Winner of People’s Choice.
2011 Exhibiting at Pete Martin’s Modern Art Gallery, Nundah, Qld. MIAC 30th Annual Exhibition
2011 Winner of People’s Choice. Guest Artist Randall Gallery, Mount Koot-tha, Toowong,
2011 Exhibited “Rhythm of The Islands” exhibition, Redlands Museum
2013 Guest artist St Augustin’s Church, Old Hall, Racecourse Road, Hamilton. 2013. Sole Exhibition
“The Catch” Mango. 500mm. 2010.
“Guardian” Banksia Wood 900mm, 2010
“Darter” Banksia. 1 metre. 2011.
“Emerging Form” Blood Wood 1.5 metre
“Togetherness” Camphor Laurel 500mm 2010
at the Quandamooka On Jencoomercha day of the local Salt Water Murri Festival
“Carol, “Tallow Wood, 2.5m, 2012.
A short time ago I realised the reasons for my most recent sculptures. They are a growing respect for South East Queensland Aboriginal, and particularly Salt Water Murri, culture and an attempt to depict this from a European’s perspective as I obviously will never be able to do so from an Indigenous one. The “Trophy” sculpture, a collaborative work with one of the Salt Water Murri artists and a local painter, also Indigenous but with Blackdown Tableland connections, is an example of this.
This is combined with a total admiration of Nature as the ultimate artist.
“Antiquity” is part of an ancient log given to me by an Aboriginal Elder friend and has been worked as little as possible apart from removing some splinters and fitting it to a modern Cypress Pine base. It is, to me, a very humbling piece. When I look at it I see not only thousands of years of Moreton Bay history but also a magnificent work of art that I do not believe any human could equal.
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