An armchair from the wilderness

Armchair, ‘Peninsula Tasmania’, hardwood / King William Pine, designed by Gay Hawkes, Melbourne, Australia, 1985

Recycle, upcycle, repurpose, reuse…the concept is not just a current phenomena. It has been going on for as long as history. This armchair titled ‘Peninsula Tasmania’ constructed and designed by Gay Hawkes of Melbourne was made in 1985 (a time before design was popularised) and is made of King William pine and shipwreck hardwood collected at Forestier Peninsula, Tasmania.

Tourists drive across the Forestier Peninsula on the way to Port Arthur where it still remains undeveloped, and there appear to be few roads to the wild east coast where the artist was probably camped.

Side view of 'Peninsula Tasmania' armchair

Side view of ‘Peninsula Tasmania’ armchair

Gay Hawkes said of her work, “the wood for the piece ‘Peninsula Tasmania’ was collected on a very remote beach on Forestier Peninsula, Tasmania in January 1985 when I was camping there. It is pieces of hardwood & King-Billy pine from shipwrecks – in particular a wreck called the ‘Say When’. The chair was inspired by the blue, green and greys of southern Tasmania, the racing clouds of turbulent air, freshness and richness of the sea, which provided food and even materials for furniture. I wanted to stay there and build a house from the flotsam – so I made this chair’.

According to the Australian Encyclopaedia of Shipwrecks a motor launch called the ‘Saywhen’ was wrecked in 1942 with the loss of five lives however this event was some distance further up the coast from the Forestier Peninsula so our chair is probably made from another and hopefully less gruesome wreck.


This article was originally published on Inside the Collection Blog.