Dorset born, Michael Retter began experimenting with marquetry in the 1950s whilst at sea as a marine engineer. Twenty years later, his interest was rekindled. In his spare time over the next ten years Michael revised his self-taught book methods, developing new techniques and refining his art whilst making wall panels and portraits for exhibitions and private commissions. In 1986 Michael was commissioned to make 80 marquetry panels equivalent to 65sq. metres for the new Australian Parliament House, mainly featuring Australian flora. Since retirement in 1991, his part-time interest has become a full time occupation.
Michael has collected samples of over 150 timber species but he finds that 90% of his work uses only 10 species, e.g. Qld Walnut, Jarrah, Blackheart Sassafras, Blackwood. Where possible Michael tries to use timbers from the flora species being depicted. He finds that the most useful veneers in marquetry are often the waste and rejected parts of a log, the knots, mineral stains, colour variations and spatting.
Confident of his techniques, Michael is now more creative. He continues to make small panels but is seeking new ideas and directions. He is exploring the possibilities of collaboration with other wood workers and architects to use marquetry as decoration in their projects.