Chairs by Mike Epworth

They are very much Bulimba Chairs; being made 750 meters from the beginning of Oxford St from debris salvaged out of the skips of several renovations in the area. The decoupaged newspaper was folded up in a book bought from an Oxford St Book Shop, a salutary reminder of the potential of being a city by a river.

I am a chairmaker/bodger of 35 years, I lecture part time at Griffith University QCA in Design and am also completing a doctorate there. My family has maintained a tradition of vernacular Australian furniture making for eight generations. This started with the convict Anthony Rope who made a crib for his daughter in the days after the arrival of the First Fleet.

The chair’s design and making are based on the chair and work practices of Jimmy Possum a mysterious chair maker/bodger who lived and worked n a hollowed out tree in the wild forest near Deloraine Tasmania sometime between 1890 and 1910. Possum could have been an ex convict or had Aboriginal heritage, there is no record of him except the chairs found in major collections such as NGA. His chairs combine many woodworking techniques used by Indigenous people; if he was Indigenous and he married these skills to the ancient European crafts of chairmanning and bodging his chairs represent a distinct, fused Australian aesthetic that needs to be celebrated.

Links below to an old film about bodgers and a picture of the NGA Jimmy Possum.

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