Exquisite Marquetry and Fine Furniture from an Australian Master
A Wood Masters Series Exhibition
5 December, 2009 – 20 January, 2010
Opening Saturday 5th December at 2.30pm by Aldo Giurgola AM
Marquetry and inlay were inspired by the ancient craft of intarsia - the making of decorative and pictorial mosaics by the inlaying of precious and exotic material into or onto a groundwork of solid wood.
Michael Retter first started marquetry as a pastime while at sea as a marine engineer in the late 1950’s. In 1975, Michael devoted more and more time to developing his skills and his markets until in 1984 he was able to start thinking about marquetry as a profession.
Michael’s work is uniquely Australian in subject matter and materials. Pieces of his work have been presented by the Australian Government to overseas dignitaries from Japan, Ethiopia, Greece, Indonesia, Russia, Malaysia, Canada, US, UK, Sweden, Norway, Israel, Turkey, South Africa, Korea, and China.
An artist of international fame, Michael Retter was named Marquetarian of the Year at New York’s Marquetry Society of America Exhibition in 1984. In 1989 Michael was awarded an Order of Australia (OAM) medal for his work.
Michael’s largest commission and most public work to date was in 1988 for the new Parliament House in Canberra. The first part of the commission involved the making of 56 monochrome frieze panels for the Cabinet Ante-room. A second commission was for a ceiling marque and more commissions followed including 20 more panels, marquetry on the Speaker’s chair and for the Australian Coat of Arms.
Another major public project was for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra. Michael supplied nine small marquetry insets for the VIP dining table and sideboard, plus a set of 15 panels each 90cm square, covering the end wall of the same room.
The work in this exhibition displays three areas of Michaels work. The wall hangings are indicative of an artist at the highest level of his skills, and indeed of marquetry worldwide. Presented in two sizes the works depict the Australian flora and fauna in all its uniqueness and beauty, accurately represented and documented on each unique piece.
There are also a limited number of works that form a mini retrospective of his more than 35 years of professional artistry. And then there are utilitarian pieces worked in collaboration with Canberra fine furniture maker Scott Mitchell. The long-time friends share a passion for all things wood and the decorative and subtle artistry of Michael’s marquetry is harmoniously injected into the designs and finesse of Scott’s fine furniture pieces.
The Gallery is proud to be able to present this major and most important exhibition of Michael Retter’s exquisite artistry as another of its Masters in Wood 25th Anniversary series.