Morwell and Churchill Advertiser

Woodwork Wonder.

A 26 year-old has traded an international prop and scenic artist career in London and Sydney for the rolling hills of Berrys Creek to create wooden rocking horses and furniture.

Artist Olivia O’Connor is showing her wooden sculptures, a recycled timber table and one of her hand crafted rocking horses alongside 30 artists participating in ARC Yinnar’s ‘Mid-Winter Wool and Wood’ exhibition.

Ms. O’Connor said most woodworkers were old men, or at lest older than 60, but she was passionate about using Australian timbers, leathers and 100% real horse hair when creating her bespoke horses.

Her rocking horses are hand carved from several pieces of timber, and intentionally asymmetrical with the head of horse turned slightly to the right to show the craftsman’s skill.

‘I love working with timbers, I think it’s really important as a natural resource and working with timber is a dying skill at the moment.’ Ms. O’Connor said. After finishing school, the artist decided to study a course in furniture design and construction at RMIT University, but after one year was accepted into a competitive prop making course at the National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney.

It was this three year specialist degree that she experienced working with wood and leather, foam sculpting, mold making and puppet making.

Her skills launched her into a prop making a scenic artist career for a wide variety of shos and films in Sydney and London.

This included work as a saddle maker for War Horse at the Royal National Theatre London, head of properties at the Sydney Opera House and scenic artist at Opera Australia and Fox Films.

However it was Ms. O’Connor’s childhood, growing up on a farm in the Mornington Peninsula, where she developed her love of natural materials. One her website she explained the need to return to the country side.

‘I wanted to return to regional Victoria and surround myself with the countryside and natural materials that had inspired my childhood.’ Ms. O’Connor said.