Ted Upton


Artist Statement

Antarctic seas and ice, the Great Barrier Reef, woodland and forest trees from Victoria to Queensland can all be seen to influence my work. Marine and native wildlife also play a part. The reason I mainly use wood is that it feels alive; it is not inert. As you work you can feel its sap. Even well seasoned wood can split and crack once it has been carved, revealing more of its character.

So many old trees on the Bay Islands are cut down for housing or need to be removed because they are a danger to people or dwellings. All of my timber comes from this source. I view it as one of nature’s great resources to be used for another purpose, one that changes it from becoming waste or garden mulch into art or craft.

Arts_ted6 “Carol Commenced – Tallowood tree”

I enjoy the whole process of creation and from the moment a tree is cut I decide how a length of log may be used – although the wood itself has occasionally taken control and told my chisel what to do! The whole design process is exciting and with each piece you feel it may just be possible to capture or create new life from old wood.

As it changes from a log into a three-dimensional piece revealing the form envisioned for it, I feel excitement every time as though the spirit of the wood is still within it.

Carol2ss. “Carol completed – Tallowood tree”


Ted Upton started sculpting wood in 2001 but has worked in wood, one way or another throughout his life. As a boy, just after WW11 in Kent, out poaching rabbits and pheasants for the dinner table he would wander through coppice and woods looking at trees and losing the plot. His great love of trees grew even stronger when living in West Gippsland, Victoria, where massive Blue Gums in the lower valleys led to huge Mountain Ash towering above the dense forests and up finally to Snow Gums. From these forests he gained a respect for the management of trees, of their life cycles, of their need for nurturing, and use – later shown in his care of the old growth forest on his Yeppoon property.

Some of his work is representational, as in the dolphins and whales tails he carves. His love of reef fish and sea mammals comes from living ten years on Heron Island as Manager of Heron Island Research Station on the Great Barrier Reef where dolphins would leap around him as he snorkelled and whales breach in front of his outrigger canoe. He also likes to work in the style of medieval wood workers making benches in that time-honoured fashion but his free-form work tends towards the tumultuous seas and fantastical ice forms of Antarctica where he spent several years leading three ANAR Expeditions. His use of, and feel for, serpentine shapes in wood is powerful.

Ted Upton studied with Donna Littlejohn in Rockhampton. Donna studied with the late, great Tom Bass in Sydney.

Group Exhibitions:

2006 & 2007 Art and Design Dept. CQ TAFE, End of Year Student Exhibition. Yeppoon at TAFE Gallery, 2009 Floating Film Arts Show, Karragarra Island, 2009 Macleay Island Arts Complex 28 th Annual Exhibition-Winner of People’s Choice, 2010 Macleay Island Arts Complex Annual Potters’ Exhibition, Island Magic, 2010 Macleay Islands Arts Complex, MIAC 29th Annual Exhibition – Winner of People’s Choice, 2011 Exhibiting at Pete Martin’s Modern Art Gallery, Nundah, Qld, MIAC 30th Annual Exhibition 2011 Winner of People’s Choice, Guest Artist Randall Gallery, Mount Koot-tha, Toowong, 2011. Exhibited “Rhythm of The Islands” exhibition, Redlands Museum April 2013. Guest artist St Augustin’s Church, Old Hall, Racecourse Road, Hamilton. 11th and 12th May 2013.

Solo Exhibition

Sept. 17th to October 3rd. 2010. MIAC.