Phil Sheppard – Mulga lil lil (battleaxes), Wayne Krause (Water Hole Creation)
“If possible I like to source my wood from iconic Aboriginal places because of the power those places have.”
Phil Sheppard is but one of the artists featured in Redfern’s Duckrabbit exhibition ‘Timeless.’ “Showcasing the power of ancient stories during COVID-19” alongside Wayne Krause, Maddy Hodgetts, Katy Williams and Peter Williams, ‘Timeless’ is curated by Richard Graham; too the mind behind Redfern Corner.
Managed by Hugh Ramage, ‘Timeless’ was one of the first Duckrabbit exhibitions following a COVID-19-induced hiatus since March, with Ramage’s own ‘Race To The Bottom’ heralding the Redfern stalwart’s re-opening in September.
Maddy Hodgetts – Ngurruy Winya
Katie Williams – Lore of the ocean
“I make traditional weapons: I’ve been taught by Aboriginal Uncles mainly in western NSW,” said Sheppard. “I’ve had my own business as an arborist for over 30 years so I developed a real love for wood and I’ve got a particular interest in different trees and shrubs and plants in general, their cultural uses and particularly their use for bush food and bush medicine.”
“At this particular exhibition the main wood that I use tends to be mulga from western NSW because it’s so beautiful; you put a lot of work into it and it brings out feature in the timber and colour.”
A Ngiyampaa man by traditional lore and Kamilaroi and Darug by adoption, Sheppard shares a ceremonial relationship with the two other male artists exhibiting. ‘Timeless,’ displayed at Duckrabbit from late October through early November, showcases a “story of change and resilience, whether it is living through ice ages, sea level rise, 14,000 year drought, smallpox, the common cold, a pandemic or colonisation.”
“This time I’ve tried another couple of trees for example supplejack which is another western NSW species,” said Sheppard in Redfern. “I came across a fallen Banksia tree over on the east coast and found a very good bend in that so for the first time I made something out of Banksia and it ended up being really spectacular.”
“I use emu or goanna oil to help preserve the wood and bring out the feature because the spirit of those very important animals goes into the wood and only enhances the spirit of the artefact.”