WHEN we think about art we might be forgiven for thinking mainly about paint, clay and canvas.

But for NSW Northern Rivers sculptor and teacher Dave Hickson ‘wood construction’ is the ultimate artistic expression.

Born in New Zealand and majoring in sculpture at the National Art School in Sydney, Dave graduated with honours and is a recipient of the prestigious Julian Beaumont Sculpture Prize. He has lived on the NSW Far North Coast since 2008 and works out of his studio at Ocean Shores.

Speaking ahead of the launch of a new collaborative project, ‘At Home,’ Dave is working with three other practitioners to support and enliven connections between artists and the community during the COVID-19 isolation.

‘At home’ is a program initiated by the Lismore Regional Gallery and Lismore Quad and represents an important shift as the arts adapts to a new reality. 

“Together alone, ‘at home’ provides an important connection for artists and our community, primarily delivered using a digital platform and there may also be a physical element showcased on the other side of the virus crisis,” Dave said.

For Mr Hickson, a visual arts lecturer who recently returned to delivering face-to-face teaching, the role of artists-in-residence is important in connecting budding artists with the wider community. 

“It is a tradition in the arts to have artist-in-residence programs around the country, helping artists to engage with the community and other practitioners, while also developing valuable experience … getting you out of your comfort zone,” he says.

When it comes to materials, wood provides artists with great flexibility for expression.  In addition, wood is natural and is sustainably sourced from forests certified under a forest certification scheme such as PEFC or Responsible Wood, ensuring forests remain healthy forests.

“Wood has lots of applications, whether carving or constructing; it’s fun and inspiring to use and when it comes to creative expression it has intrinsic qualities unmatched by any other material,” Dave said.

“It’s just like having a 3D canvas to work on.”

Dave says supply plays an important role, too. “Most of the materials used in my art pieces (see examples on this page) are sourced from salvaged timber or recycled furniture pieces featuring a variety of woods including western red cedar or hoop pine,” he says.

“The collaborative sculpture is mostly made of wood, but includes photographic processes, drawing, weaving and filmmaking. The community is able to follow its development and the final work online via the Lismore Quad website and the participating artists’ Instagram accounts.”

The Together Alone residency is a collaboration under the title Post Normal with Dave Hickson joined by Rich Stone, Beki Davies and Elvis Callaghan.

The Lismore Regional Gallery is the oldest cultural organisation in the Northern Rivers, established in 1953, and has played an active role in the cultural life of the community for generations.

A focus on solo exhibitions over recent years has seen the gallery usually working directly with the artist.

The gallery also plays an active role in developing exhibitions by and with the local community to tell stories of local significance.

“The Northern Rivers is a dynamic community, and we see our role as being a key place to tell our stories,” gallery director Brett Adlington said.

For more information about Responsible Wood or PEFC forest certification please visit Responsible Wood.

For more information about the Together Alone collaboration visit https://lismorequad.org.au/ or to see Dave Hickson’s wood constructions visit www.davehickson.net