Image: One of Graham Chataway's timber creations. Courtesy, http://goetschandsons.com.au/
A FEW seconds of eerie silence follow the frenzied scream of a chainsaw. Then, a thundering crash announces the passing of another of nature's most gentle giants. The felling of a tree is solemn work for some but becomes enthralling entertainment for others. Even when the mood is festive a certain sadness surrounds the fallen.
GRAHAM Chataway has heard those distinctive sounds from time to time since he and his wife Teresa moved to Cleveland 23 years ago. Both have doctorates in different academic disciplines. Born in central western Queensland, Graham developed a deep connection with trees and timber early in his life. He feels the sadness every time a tree crashes to the ground, but he can also see beauty in the mangled mess. On the ranks of timber lovers, Graham must sit among the highest boughs. "I just love the feel, the colour, the smell of some woods," he says. "I love the natural appearance, the patina and the linkage with the soil."
WHEN the chainsaw has screamed around Erobin Street, Graham has joined the throng, not to celebrate a death but to honour a life. He has air dried the timber and created beautiful objects. Graham calls his works "craft" but they are also "art". His collection includes avocado, mango, olive, rose apple and Norfolk Pine from Erobin Street. Other pieces are made from Cunnamulla bloodwood, St George mulga, Gympie messmate, ironbark, redwood, cypress pine and Lamington red cedar.
THE handiwork was be on proud display on Sunday, when the Chataways held a clearance sale as they move toward completion of a major project, the demolition of the home they have occupied since 1989 and construction of a new house on part of the site. The Chataways retired about 10 years ago, Graham was a specialist in the impact of technology on corporate environments and work culture; Teresa’s research was in legal and political philosophy.
THE couple decided "to let go" of their antiques, collectables, woodcraft, and some furniture and enlisted Kalbar auctioneer Neil Goetsch. The auction notice also listed woodworker's tools, shed, landscaping materials and fishing gear. Graham says he also has a long-standing interest in agricultural machinery. Many of the auction items came from rural clearing sales in the Lockyer Valley and on the Scenic Rim and Darling Downs. He promised some surprises for the auction crowd but the big message: "See what can be done with local reclaimed timber and some imagination."
This column has appeared in The Redland Times.