Whimsy, caprice, ephemera – not words often associated with the set-in-stone world of sculpture.
But a Tasmanian artist and sculptor has been creating lighthearted driftwood sculptures around the Cataract Gorge over the festive season.
The sculptures are impromptu pieces of art that invite creativity and play, a different tone from more traditional sculpture that is often solidly planned to last forever.
Martin Cole has been creating driftwood sculptures for years, with some of his notable pieces on display at past Falls Festivals and other major events around the state, including at Launceston’s Cenotaph a few years ago.
His latest creations can be spotted around the Gorge, but may disappear within days as passers-by add or remove to them, or the powers of nature take hold.
A nest-like creation next to the Alexandra suspension bridge at First Basin attracted plenty of curious visitors as Cole worked on the design over a day.
Another appeared on the northern side of the Kings Bridge-Cataract walk near the first shelter hut, complete with a large silvery piece of driftwood reflecting a bird taking flight from its home.
A third, circular vision of driftwood laid out on a bare rock was soon washed away by the tide.
“It’s just play,” Cole said.
“I like doing ephemeral sculptures that don’t make a mark on the landscape.”
As an artist in transit, creating with both driftwood and paint, Cole said he enjoys using the mediums at hand in different ways.
“The brush strokes and tone [of paint] is very similar to the tangle of driftwood,” he said.
Taking a whimsical approach to art, not being afraid to leave a piece half-done, means Cole often returns to his driftwood sculptures to find it has become something different.
At the Alexandra Bridge sculpture he left a large and jagged piece of driftwood aside, thinking about using it to complete the nest the next day.
When he returned, a visitor had already changed it.
“Someone had climbed in and put the jagged piece in the middle [of the nest],” Cole said.
“I didn’t need to do anything else.”
Cole said he has a few more driftwood sculptures planned around the Gorge, as well as a joint art exhibition at Stillwater.
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