Sculpting a new way in life

By Jackson Russell

Glenaroua artist Chris Anderson stumbled into sculpture after making a 20th anniversary present for his wife.

His art has developed so much that he recently won a People’s Choice Award at Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show.

Mr Anderson, also known as ArtyChris, said he originally set out to make his wife a vase.

“I didn’t know what to get her and being not really a traditional diamonds sort of guy, I was going to make a vase but I was out in the wood heap and I saw a bit of wood that looked like an eagle beak so I pulled it out of the wood heap and made an eagle,” he said.

Chris Anderson with Erin the wedge tailed eagle, which won the People’s Choice Award at Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show.

“I enjoyed the process and kept making them. I’ve entered a few art competitions and so far I’ve won first prize in every competition I’ve entered.”

Mr Anderson’s sculptures, including Erin the wedge tailed eagle, are made from drop wood he’s found in the bush and smashed into small pieces.

“Some of it was already extremely old wood when it was alive, 100 or 200 year old trees that fell over a long time ago,” he said.

“It’s not really good wood for anything really except for what I do. I just smash it up into splinters and little pieces and then construct the bird or animal out of those fragments.

“I take those random pieces of wood with all their facets and find the right piece that will fit.

“It’s a slow process because I just have piles of what really looks like tanbark, kindling or mulch and I’ll hunt through for the right size piece that I need and then construct it.

“I start with a rough idea or plan of what it’s going to look like but it evolves as I do it and depending on which pieces of wood I pick up.”

Mr Anderson’s favourite pieces are the eagles, but he’s also made magpies, hawks, emus and echidnas.

There’s an eagle’s nest on Mr Anderson’s property and his sculptures can attract their attention from time to time as well as kangaroos and hawks.

“I love that when I finish an eagle, I put it out on the lawn to take a photograph of it and within minutes of me putting it there, the wild eagles will circle above the house and have a close look,” Mr Anderson said.

“They’ll be 30 metres above circling and they’ll have a look and be on their way. It’s really nice, it’s like a seal of approval or something.”

Mr Anderson took up sculpturing after a 20-year career with the Department of Defence was derailed by illness.

Having spent time at The Kilmore and District Hospital, Mr Anderson donated a sculpture of two eagles with their baby to the hospital’s Black Saturday 10-year Anniversary Commemorative Native Garden.

“I made that one knowing that it’s a maternity hospital and felt that the two parents with the little baby, pushing him out of that tree and taking a leap of faith was a bit symbolic of the first parents walking out of there with their new babies,” he said.

“It was my way of saying thank you to the hospital for all the care they’ve given me and my boys.”

Mr Anderson said his long term goal for his art was to be able to share it with more people.

“I’m lucky to live in this part of the country and I would really like to open it up to share it with people,” he said.

“I’m setting up what I’m going to call the Glenaroua Garden Gallery so I’ll set up a walk with some gardens and some sculptures. I’ll let people come and go for a walk and enjoy it and hopefully they enjoy looking at the animals I’ve made and a walk in the bush.”