I am a freelance writer and diversional therapist, living in Brisbane's North West. I write for Weekend Notes, Must do Brisbane and Starts at Sixty. Visit my blogs at babybloomin.wordpress.com and brisbanetripster.wordpress.com.
Published April 11th 2015
Let me tell you about the birds and the bees and more
A busy university campus would probably be the last place anyone would expect to see a range of our native birds and animals, but look carefully and you will find them on the QUT Kelvin Grove campus.
Matthew George, a Queensland creative chainsaw artist, takes the trunks of fallen trees and magically turns each one into a work of art. Using only his chainsaw, he carves out amazing bird and animal sculptures which have become permanent public art - not only on the QUT Kelvin Grove campus, but also in country towns throughout Western Queensland and in his home town of Maleny.
Matthew believes it's important for people to reconnect to each other and nature. He says, "It's great to see people reconnecting - my carvings become a conversation piece and get people talking to each other. Not only do they create conversations but they also change the type of conversations people have. For instance, grey nomads swap stories of the animal carvings they've seen whilst travelling and that opens up further conversations about travel in general - people start talking to each other on a different level."
Why are these pieces on campus? It's hoped that these carvings will get students looking at more than just their mobile device screens. If they just rediscover the art of looking at the world around them, they'll find cockatoos chattering in the trees, a wombat fossicking in a garden bed, a mother koala with her baby sitting in the fork of a gum tree, native bees and much, much more. There are roughly 15 carvings scattered around the campus, all waiting to be discovered by students as they look up, down and around on their way to and from lectures.
There is no map for this trail, but Naomie Hewitt, Grounds Manager for the campus says it's not hard to spot the animals and birds, provided students' eyes are off their phones and looking at their surrounds and the environment. This writer must admit to having enlisted Naomie's assistance to locate these beautiful works of art.
Whilst they're not deliberately hidden, I think it would be fair to say that finding some will provide seekers with a good challenge! Naomie says the carvings have attracted a lot of interest, particularly amongst international students. She said that when she first saw the chainsaw artist's work at the Maleny wood-working festival she knew it would be a perfect fit for the university gardens.
Matt has been working with chainsaws for the last 21 years and says it took him 3 - 4 hours to create the kangaroo which can be found on the uni campus. He has carved many different animals from bees to whales and says his timbers of choice are red cedar and camphor laurel. His carvings are low maintenance, needing only an annual coat of oil to prevent the timbers from drying out. He provides a certificate of authenticity with each carving purchased.
Why not take a stroll through the campus - without your phone or tablet - and see just how good your observation skills are? A little word of advice: wear comfy walking shoes (the campus is very hilly), take a water bottle and slip, slop, slap!