WORK ON SHOW:Murwillumbah sculptor Jack Quilter will exhibit his work at Swell Sculpture Festival for the 10th year in a row this month.
WORK ON SHOW:Murwillumbah sculptor Jack Quilter will exhibit his work at Swell Sculpture Festival for the 10th year in a row this month. Liana Turner

Swell artworks on show

MURWILLUMBAH sculptor Jack Quilter has been exhibiting at Swell Sculpture Festival for the last decade.

This month, his work will once again be on show on the Currumbin beachfront.

His series Ghost Fish, inspired but his love of scuba diving and marine life, takes an interesting look at marine life - a fitting theme for a seaside sculpture festival.

Crafted from the "mountains of junk" he loves to collect, his works are assemblages of discarded and disused metal and wooden materials, mostly sourced from farms around the region.

He has used old plough blades from the Tweed's cane farming industry as a fish head in one piece, while old anchored represents its rib bones.

"I'm a great collector of old objects so I do a lot of fossicking, gathering and accumulating," Quilter said.

"All of the work is sourced from this area, so they are layered with history."

After envisaging the end result from his metal materials, Quilter welds the pieces together.

"Essentially I would say I'm an assemblage artist," he said.

While his almost otherworldly creations of downward-travelling skeletal fish make a poignant statement about the potentially dire future of our marine life, Quilter is happy for his audience to draw their own conclusions from the works.

Still, there's an interesting parallel between his inspiration and his practice.

"Having this love of history and scuba diving...it's taken me to places like Turkey, Greece, that's where I got into diving into wrecks," he said.

"The hulls of the ships are wooden to they've disintegrated, and what's left are all the cargo."

The way the marine life claims back these wrecks isn't too unlike the new life Quilter breathes into his "mountains of junk".

"The aquatic life resumes and takes hold of all these wrecks," he said.

Quilter said despite changing themes and subjects in his work, he was forever fixated on using recycled materials from the local area.

"I also have a real love for the ocean environment," he said.

He said while scuba diving in Egypt, he was inspired by the diversity of life on the coral reef.

Quilter said he was fortunate to be able to find an abundance of materials he could recycle in the Tweed.

Quilter has been based out of his South Murwillumbah studio for eight years now.

In 1999, he moved to Australia from Suffolk, England.

He said his parents had a massive influence on his creativity.

"My father was a painter...I was brought up with very artistic parents," he said.

He said he had been working on Ghost Fish for about nine months, and is now finalising the last touches as the festival draws near.



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