Out of devastation

By PATSY HOLLIS | Nieka-based Marcus Tatton creates statuary from the debris of the forest floor after careless man with his indiscrimating chainsaws has ripped down the trees.

With his own two chainsaws, affectionately known as Constantine and Claes, he carves monumental tributes to life from the chaos around him.

A sculptor (drum-maker and instructor in woodcarving design as well), Marcus gained a Bachelor of Fine Art (Furniture Design) from the University of Tasmania, having moved here from his native New Zealand.

He's had one-man and joint showings in Australia as well as the US, UK and Egypt, and in 2004 received grants from the Australia Council to create new works, and an Arts Tasmania grant to help towards producing his catalogues.

Marcus writes:

It may sound a bit strange but I just love being out in the clear-felled forest coupes. The trees are smashed up, the soils ripped bare and tumultuous to bipeds. The stench of carcasses from 1080 means they are ready to plant pines or throw seed.
I camp under a two metre-diameter log lying discarded on its side. With a tarp strung between whippy sticks and great prostrate tree bodies, I create an atmosphere of life again, a small oasis in the desert. The scene is a sculptors playground.
Decorative and rich-grained forms lie under the gashed and sun-cracked log surfaces. Carved wood objects of monumental scale are lying about, as statues in an Italian marble quarry.


The piece takes its name from the binary system of digital information, the One and the Zero. Marcus explains: "I had this idea for a long time putting the digital age into this form, representing the continuum of language methods such as heiroglyphics to Morse code to computers."

So simple and yet could be a symbol of today's industry. Standing 1.8m high, it ideally would grace the marble foyer of a large IT corporate concern, and Marcus intends making a limited series of 10 such pieces with that view in mind.

The first task is to find the remains of a felled tree, in this instance a Eucalyptus regnans, that can be the basis of the zero, and moreover it must be close enough to a road that it can be winched out.

[They are named, incidentally, for two sculptors who worked in a large elemental scale: Claes Oldenberg and Constantine Brancusi].

Marcus regularly walks through the forest looking for likely pieces that could translate the ideas he has sketched in his notebook.

Next he cuts the circle and carves out the centre using a larger and a smaller chainsaw with finesse and care. [They are named, incidentally, for two sculptors who worked in a large elemental scale: Claes Oldenberg and Constantine Brancusi].

Flattening the trees base is time consuming but most important because a dead flat surface, by eye, is essential. Marcus explains the first flat is like a datum line from which everything else is cut, so you have to use your geometry (eyeology) carefully.

He uses the smaller chainsaw to carve down the bole so that the sides are perpendicular it takes a great deal of carving to get them to just 300mm thickness at the end. Physically demanding, yes, but Marcus says he gets the fever and keeps working to the end of each day.

The last step is perhaps even more arduous. The zero is manhandled out by means of an endless chain winch and tripod to where it can be transported by road to be given a finish of decking oil and installed as a dramatic symbol wherever its final resting place is to be.

To create the One, Marcus was fortunate enough to find a suitable log left lying in the same coupe and used an Alaskan mill frame attached to a chainsaw bar to cut parallel lines.
Continued …


See more of Marcus Tatton's creations
at his web site. Click here to visit.