Hand carved wooden signs – I recently had the great honour of being asked to design and build a hand carved wooden sign for the Kempsey High School’s new Visual Arts Centre, which I readily accepted.
Kempsey High School is unusual in that the Aboriginal students make up around 20% of the total student population, which is one of the highest percentages in all Australian high schools, so it was only fitting that the Aboriginal culture was celebrated with this sign.
The sign itself was made from Tallowwood, which is native to the region, and is a strong and hardy timber which looks great when finished, and will remain looking great for decades to come with a minimum of maintainence.
In their native state the trees can grow to more than 40 metres tall, and one large tree was often used to create an entire cottage in the early days. They are in fact a member of the Eucalypt family, and the leaves are favoured by Koalas, while the nectar of the tree is also favoured by bee-keepers, so it is an important tree in Australia.
The tree gets its common name from the fact that when freshly cut, the timber has a slightly greasy feel to it, similar to tallow. But when finished, it usually has a yellowish colour which lends itself beautifully to making signs and also outdoor furniture in general. The phrase “Barrunba Ngundakang” comes from the native language of the local Aboriginals, the Dunghutti people, and means “Dream about tomorrow” in English, which seemed fitting for a centre designed to develop skills in the visual arts.
The sign was finished in a simple decking treatment, which helps to highlight the beautiful natural colour of the timber while helping to protect the timber, so the sign should be standing proud and looking good for generations to come.
The building was officially opened on Tuesday the seventh of May, 2013, and consisted of the traditional cleansing smoke dance to bless the building and ward off the evil spirits, and the sign itself was adorned with 110 sets of beads. Each new visitor removed one set of the beads as they went into the building, as a sign of welcome and blessing for the building.
All in all, it was a great day, and a great honour to be chosen to build the handcarved wooden sign for the building and be a part of the celebrations. If you are passing by, you may be able to visit the school and its Arts Centre in Broughton Street, Kempsey, and have a look for yourself.
If you were thinking about getting a handcarved wooden sign made for your home or office, contact us and let me know what you had in mind, and I may be able to fit you in before Christmas if you get in fast.