Jack with his Peoples’ Choice sculpture, Sacred Centre

… in praise of all things Australian

For timber sculptor, Jack Wilms, winning the People’s Choice award at the recent Kenilworth Celebrates Art Festival confirmed his commitment to all things Australian. Jack has a German background but he is a firm believer in crafting only Australian themes and using Australian Red Cedar.

Actually, Jack doesn’t think we should call his favourite timber, red cedar.

“It has an inferior name sadly,” says Jack. “It is not a cedar at all. It is really a mahogany. The Australian specimen was wrongly identified in the 19th century by an English botanist in London who thought it looked like Indian cedar. “

Despite the name problem, Jack is delighted with the qualities of Red Cedar. He won’t use any other timber in his busy furniture and artworks workshop /gallery, tucked away in the Obi Valley.

“Nothing compares to cedar,” he says with some relish. ” It was the only timber that ever qualified for export furniture from Australia. There’s nothing like it … the density, the various depth of colour, and white ants won’t touch it.”

The Ned Kelly mythology is bound up in this red cedar sculpture in the Obi Valley Woodworks Gallery

Jack wanders off to grab his recent, award-winning sculpture called ‘Sacred Centre’ to show off the deep dark red of the timber he’d used. This mellow and organic piece of cedar reflects Jack’s keen interest to raise awareness of the 40,000 years of aboriginal history with its strong aboriginal themes. He is honoured to have done the first sculpture to win this award since the popular annual event started 13 years ago.

Jack sources his cedar mainly from the Kilcoy area. He often chooses gigantic buttress roots for his naturalistic sculptors and prefers to use dead trees which he sources from the landholders. He carves beautiful entrance doors, wall mirrors and murals, sculptures, cabinets and assorted tables for many of his clients who are timber lovers.

Jack Wilms came late to sculpture. He was a mature man before he got hooked onto carving and his love of timber.

“I should have done it earlier,” says Jack with a smile. “I was a frustrated picture framer in Fremantle until one day I picked up a piece of timber and started carving into it with a Stanley knife.

That was twenty years ago, and since then Jack Wilms has followed his passion for the outdoors and his affinity for capturing the personality of Australian fauna in the timber he loves.

Jack’s creative energy for Australian heritage includes Ned Kelly and the Glenrowan drama. His haunting carvings of Ned Kelly memorabilia is an example of his need to promote the significant aspects of our European heritage.

Jack is always on the lookout for the remains of red cedar. Massive buttressed roots are his favourite finds.

Jack had his own Cedar Gallery for several years in Montville from the late ‘90s with many avid followers. For the past seven years, he and his partner, Monica have re-established themselves on 100 acres in Coolabine in the Obi Valley. They have recently opened a timber gallery where coffee and gourmet cakes are served overlooking a deeply wooded valley.

“I am so close to nature,” says Jack with a cheeky grin, “that I consider myself a white aborigine. “I just like creating beautiful things and it’s pretty organic what I do,” adds this enthusiastic artist for all things Australian.