The 2016 Wootha Prize was hotly contested again with 17 entries selected for the final exhibition. Judges Robert Howard, Richard Vaughan and Pam Maegdefrau met the afternoon prior to the Expo to deliberate on entries, and placings were awarded at the official opening of the Expo on the evening of 29th April.
First Prize of $2,500 sponsored by HQPlantations was awarded to Don Powell, Maleny for his superb carving The Wood Spirit.
Totally hand carved from a (very hard) piece of Queensland maple, The Wood Spirit ventures into the fantasy realm of fairy tales which met the Against the Grain dictionary definition of "contrary to good sense" with its depictions of spirits, witches and elves.
The high relief carving took Don about two months to complete
- a work of love!
Jack Wilms, also from the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, won Second Prize of $1,000 sponsored by Queensland Water and Land Carers for his beautifully finished Red cedar "The Tree of Life". This piece was created to go "against the grain" of how the tree of life is normally depicted. Instead it aims to show some of the emotions that we all experience through life's dramas, with all the ups and downs.
Third Prize of $750 sponsored by Timber Transitions went to Raf Nathan from Brisbane for his recycled Silky oak Neo Oak coffee table. This piece went "against the grain" through the use of recycled timber and jointing up shorter pieces of wood end to end to lengthen them, neither of which are mainstream in fine furniture.The decorative feature inlay pattern on the top and edges serves to hide bolt holes and check-outs.
David Harriman from Cutella in Queensland took out both the Craftsmanship and the People's Choice Awards for "Noise & Sawdust" - a Solo Rex chainsaw, a "noisy cumbersome machine which is used predominantly for cutting against the grain". Made from White beech, Queensland maple, jacaranda, Red cedar and River Red gum, "Noise & Sawdust" obviously caught the attention of the Expo visitors who voted for the People's Choice over the weekend.
And for the first time the judges elected to present an Environment Award which went to Stephen Hann for "Branch Out" - a hollow form paulownia surfboard with shou sugi ban dan (Japanese burnt timber technique) detailing and Red cedar internal bracing.
As Stephen pointed out, surfing is often thought of as a 'green' sport but this belies the toxic nature of modern-day boards.
With this board, Stephen felt he was making a small difference by working "against the grain" of modern-day surfboard manufacture which reflects a new trend emerging within the surf community as environmental awareness increases.
As always, the 2016 Wootha Prize generates and enormous amount of interest, allowing woodworkers, many of who are not in a position to exhibit at the Wood Expo, the opportunity to showcase their work to the thousands of visitors who visit each year.
The Wootha Prize is open to all woodworkers, both professionals and non-professionals, and the theme for 2017 is