Once a month I will be showcasing the talents of colleagues in the art world, and I am very happy to introduce you to Tony Fredriksson. We have not met in person, but Tony is from South Africa and I found his amazing wood sculptures online. I’ve always had a soft spot for sculpture and Tony’s work immediately caught my eye. I hope you enjoy it!
Tony with his son Shaun who helped him on the 6 week project. All the wood was collected from
the 15km shoreline around the island to produce the 14meter Humpback Whale.
Open Sky Woodart – Driftwood Sculpture by Tony Fredriksson
You can give an artist a piece of clay and within minutes they can produce something that you can recognize. As a 5 year old I made my own play world from plasticine and that was the best toy my parents ever gave me. I believe we are all given some gift in life and I was fortunate that mine was discovered at a young age and art became my chosen path.
After starting out in commercial art and all the disciplines of the printing trade, I ended up doing resin castings of animal sculptures and wore myself out. After producing close to 7000 limited edition sculptures, all hand painted, I ventured into driftwood sculpture for my first ever solo exhibition in 2010.
The Adventure – My theme was fish, as our family is fishing mad. The exhibition was close to being a total sell out and a hotel group commissioned me to make a life-size Whale skeleton on DesRoches Island in the Seychelles. The hotel group also purchased some of the fish sculptures to decorate the private villas on the island and took a liking to my working sketches and commissioned a number to decorate the rooms.
Just collecting the wood is an adventure in itself. My bakkie (pickup truck) always carries a shovel, saw and axe just incase I see some wood on the side of the road – which happens all the time.
“Old Four Legs” – a sculpture of the famous Coelacanth, which was discovered near Port Elizabeth
Treasure Hunt – What I have found to be a rewarding part of this kind of sculpture is the exploration and discovery of the weathered pieces of wood. I get so excited when I unearth a special piece from the middle of a dead tree or digging out termite eaten pieces on a game farm, or recovering an old stump from the bottom of a dam on a fishing trip.
Inspiration – comes from the pieces themselves, some have passed through my hands dozens of times while I search for that one missing piece. Some sculptures I have abandoned ‘till I can find something on one of my journeys that will complete it. Some have changed shape completely from a cat to an otter a year later. I am learning every year about different woods and the creatures that shape them or the way the wood weathers in different places.
The texture of the wood is important when deciding what one wants to portray. I have managed to find white wood that resembles ivory.
A History – Many of my friends now have second thoughts when they are about to toss a piece of hardwood onto the fire for a braai (BBQ), and wonder if they should rather give it to me. I have indeed had many pieces brought to me. One was washed up on the beach in Mozambique after it had traveled down a major river, and it ended up as the tip of the trunk on a swimming elephant. I am able to tell the public where each piece has come from as they all have their own history.
A swimming elephant designed as a fountain feature or water feature for a rim-flow pool.
Endless Variety – On the farm where we live the tractor had eroded away some old roots. One piece inspired me to make a roast chicken. I then took it further and added numerous dishes of food, deserts and a tea set. Once you set your mind in a certain direction the possibilities of what you can sculpt are endless. I have enjoyed making abstract objects, anatomical studies, people, insects, birds and mammals. Many are so popular that I get repeat orders but each one remains an absolute one-off as the found pieces determine the outcome. The size, expression and posture have to be worked out from a dominant part of the subject.
Three vultures all one-offs, just by coincidence they were brought by attorneys and lawyers.
The Source – I have been privileged to teach my own children art in junior school. All five grades would run to my class for every lesson, eager to discover something new that they could do. From baking a cake, building a wall or just playing with the food on your plate, we are all creative in some way. According to the Bible we are made in God’s image so we shouldn’t be surprised at how fulfilling the creative process is. I certainly feel I get some help from the Lord as some of the pieces seem to fit together miraculously, as if they belonged together.
This Ballerina was inspired by her torso, she to spent years underground till the road wore through and the old roots of a Silver Oak appeared.
You can find more of my work online:
Facebook: Tony Fredriksson Driftwood Sculptures
Pinterest: Tony Fredriksson
Thank you Tony!
Until next time…
Art Inspired by Africa and Conservation
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