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David Upfill-Brown and Tony Richardson

An exhibition of fine furniture by David Upfill-Brown and paintings by Tony Richardson

14 December, 2013 – 28 January, 2014

Opening and Meet the Artists Saturday 14 December at 2pm

The Final Bungendore Wood Works Gallery 30th Year Anniversary Exhibition

View the online exhibition catalogue of David Upfill-Brown's work


Bungendore Wood Works Gallery is celebrating 30 years of presenting fine arts and crafts in the Canberra and ACT Region.

Pairing two artists to represent the span of that very long tradition of presenting work by individual and groups of artists in the Gallery’s exhibition specific Octagon Artspace was a challenge.

However happenstance intervened and the solution became clear. The Gallery began operation in 1983 with the opening of its first ever exhibition featuring eight woodworkers from the Canberra and Bungendore Region who produced a single piece of work from American Black Walnut timber given to them by the Gallery’s instigator and still Creative Director expatriate New Yorker David MacLaren.

One of those original wood workers was David Upfill-Brown, well known to Canberra as one of its foremost fine woodworkers. From 1982 -1999 he ran a bespoke furniture workshop in Tharwa and became involved in teaching part time at the then Canberra School Art Wood Workshop alongside George Ingham. This led to his appointment as inaugural academic director of the Australian School of Fine Furniture in Tasmania, and then for five years as lead instructor at the Centre for Furniture Craftsmanship in Maine USA. He now teaches frequently at the Sturt College in Mittagong and in 2014 he will run a class at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina USA.

David’s skill, perception and reputation as a fine furniture maker is unmatched. And he is now firmly back in a new workshop located at Gerringong on the South Coast.

While teaching in Tasmania Upfill-Brown met and became firm friends with Tony Richardson. Tony was born in Britain where he majored in art at school. His 1959 exhibition of school artwork at the Pump Room in Bath, England, resulted in an offer of a place at the Royal College of Art, London, but he didn’t take it up, eventually pursuing four careers over three continents.

Tony returned to art eight years ago, attending the Art School at the University of Tasmania where he gained a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and commenced post-graduate studies. In 2011 he was awarded a four-month residency at the Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris.

In recent times he has been told he is an ‘emerging artist’ and for this exhibition has produced an extensive body of works entitled Tasmanian Silhouettes, esoteric, narrow tonal ranged paintings using a mixture of ink, shellac and acrylic paint to produce beautifully, sometimes eerie, rendered impressions of the Tasmanian landscape that he himself is a part of, living near Franklin in the south-east of the island in view of the legendary Huon River.

Tony states his painting mentor is Artist in Residence at the National Gallery, London, John Virtue, and from him he learned that black is fresh, brooding, solemn and expansive. Richardson describes this body of work as “working at the edges of abstraction where the visual hook signals admittance for the viewer to then make their own way.”

It seems most appropriate that this final exhibition for the Gallery’s 30th year comprise one artist who first exhibited in the Gallery’s inaugural 1983 exhibition, and one that is brand new to the Gallery in 2013.

Stan d’Argeavel MA (Visual Arts) ANU
Exhibitions Coordinator, Bungendore Wood Works Gallery


David Upfill-Brown – Fine Furniture

David set out in the 1970’s as a sculptor, carving stone and wood in Central and Southern Africa. Disenchanted with the then growing trend towards conceptual art he began to focus on furniture and in 1980/81 studied furniture making and design at Parnham, John Makepeace’s school, in England under the remarkable tutelage of Robert Ingham. From 1982-1999 with his wife Hermione he ran a bespoke furniture workshop in Tharwa near Canberra, Australia.

Teaching there and part time with George Ingham for eight years at the Australian National University culminated in his appointment as inaugural academic director of the Australian School of Fine Furniture in Tasmania, then for five years as lead instructor of the Nine Month Comprehensive at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Maine USA. He now teaches there and at Sturt in Mittagong frequently. In 2014 he will run a class at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina USA.

David’s vast repertoire of skills and techniques, only excludes spray finishing, subscribing to the traditional trade hierarchy where the cabinet maker delivered sanded work to the finisher, willing to accept a refusal if it was not prepared well enough!

He believes that to understand wood one first has to work it by hand. Once hand methods become habitual it is often more economical for bespoke or one-off furniture makers to work manually than to rely entirely on machinery. Well-developed hand skills also make one more versatile in ability and expressive in design. He does not however eschew the use of machinery. Indeed he tunes his own equipment to perform “like the first violin in the orchestra”. Machinery is of course imperative in repetitive work and he loves the challenge of developing production systems where speed and quality are achieved through what he calls, “smart jiggery-pokery”.

He believes that nothing lasting can be achieved without a sense and understanding of design. Training, teaching, book and web research, innumerable exhibition visits, contact and correspondence with many contemporary studio furniture makers and a general interest in art, especially sculpture and concrete work in all medias, has helped him build a stronger design sensibility. “Truly successful design is timeless, as an ancient example, the ‘Klismos’ chair, as a modern one; ‘The Chair’ by Hans Wegner, I strive to come somewhere close.”

Loving teaching, his greatest pleasure is to witness his students find ability deep within them. Seeing that the craft generates a powerful physical, practical, emotional, almost primal intelligence, seeing them become something like dancers or athletes, individuals whose minds speak through their bodies.

A more acquisitive pleasure is the connection of teacher and student in what he calls “the realm of ideas” plus “jumping off the deep end”, the collaborative development of a design that must speak of the student but also encourage them to embrace structural, technical or visceral territory that they may not have dared. Acquisitive also, in the sense of taking fresh ideas into his own work.

David appreciates that after forty years immersed in the craft, he still has much to learn and that this is what drives him. No conclusions; just a wonderful journey.

Tony Richardson – Tasmanian Silhouettes

Tony was born in Britain where he majored in art at school. His 1959 exhibition of school art-work at the Pump Room in Bath, England, resulted in an offer of a place at the Royal College of Art, London, but didn’t take it up.

Over the ensuing years he worked on three continents traversing four careers, culminating with fourteen years, as he says, “trying to be useful to organisations that wished to be democratic”. During this time he wrote six cartoon-based books on the subject.

Tony returned to art eight years ago, attending the Art School at the University of Tasmania where he gained a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and commenced post-graduate studies. In 2011 he was awarded a four-month residency at the Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris.

In 2007 he joined Melinda Oogjes for an exhibition of paintings titled Edges at the Entrepot Gallery, Hobart. In 2012 All Over My Place, was his first solo exhibition of forty-five paintings at the Red Chapel Gallery in Sandy Bay. Tony was a finalist in the 2013 Lloyd Rees National Landscape Competition and just two votes shy of winning the People’s Prize.

In recent times he has been told he is an ‘emerging artist’ and for this exhibition has produced an extensive body of works entitled Tasmanian Silhouettes as follows.

My art is a visceral response to what I see. I see – I feel – I paint.I enjoy dawn, when tone has not yet given way to colour. In my works I expand these moments of less complicated definition.

Were I to choose the greatest of art I’d find it hard to go past a small (8” X 6”), decisive, 1830’s tonal landscape by John Constable – in ink.

My painting mentor is Artist in Residence at the National Gallery, London – John Virtue. From him I’ve learned that black is fresh, brooding, solemn and expansive.It engulfs light – then light fights back.This is the key tension of my work.A tension in which colour is superfluous.

I work the edges of abstraction where a visual hook signals admittance for the viewer to then make their own way.My favourite quote is from Vincent Van Gough: ‘I often think that the night is more richly coloured than the day’.

Friday 22 November 2013