BOWL

KEVIN PERKINS, BOWL, 1997

TIGER GRAIN MYRTLE VENEER, AIRCRAFT PLYWOOD
55(H) x 500(W) x 165(D) mm

THE WORK

The Bowl is constructed of aircraft plywood, a strong lightweight material that can be moulded and shaped into curved forms. Perkins, along with John Smith, was among the first of the Tasmanian wood designers to experiment using plywood as a base and laminating it with thin veneer strips. The very rare tiger grain Myrtle that Perkins has used derives its name from the black fungal striations, like the stripes of a tiger, seen on the reddish brown heartwood of the Myrtle. Perkins saw in the patterned surface echoes of Fred Williams’ Australian landscape panoramas. The shape of the bowl is based on the traditional Aboriginal carrying vessels.

THE DESIGNER

Widely regarded as one of Australia’s pre-eminent wood designers Kevin is represented in many National Collections.  He has received numerous national awards since the mid 1970s and has exhibited both nationally and internationally.  Commissions received by Kevin include furniture for the Prime Minister’s suite at Parliament House, Canberra and for St Patrick’s Cathedral in Parramatta, NSW.

Kevin trained in joinery, industrial arts and sculpture.  He lectured at the University of Tasmania, School of Art in Hobart for 18 years.  Kevin retired from teaching in 2006 to focus on his own furniture production and now concentrates on whittling and sculptural pieces.

Perkins takes inspiration in conservation issues and a sense of place elicited by the history, traditions, forests and wildlife of his home state.  He is passionate about demonstrating the rich diversity of Tasmanian timbers – in contrast to bland plantation timbers - and continues to highlight the natural beauty of these materials through the strong sculptural forms of his work.  For him the greatest success will be when Tasmania’s forest resources are permanently accorded their real value.

“There was a German philosopher who had this wonderful thought. That if we are felling a tree, we use that tree to make something in a sensible way so that the item lasts for as long as it takes for the tree to replace itself. So in the case of Huon Pine, you would have to make and design for 1000 years. Otherwise you're not doing it justice. … I'm for the old growth, where you do things for the long term and do things of quality.”

Born: 1945, Launceston, Tasmania

Training: Trade Certificate in Joinery, Devonport Technical College, 1965; Industrial Arts Diploma, Hobart Technical College, 1970; Technical Instructor’s Certificate, Hobart, 1970; Sculpture (Studio Major), University of Tasmania, 1975; Building Certificate, Hobart Technical College, 1975; Advanced Certificate in Cabinetmaking, Hobart Technical College, 1990; Sculpture: fine metal casting, University of Tasmania, 2007.

Represented: Powerhouse Museum, Sydney; Australian National Gallery, Canberra, Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston.