Grahame McKenzie

Grahame's spectacular wood work is one of the highlights of our exhibitions.

Grahame had a major "Tree Change" from his former life as a stock broker. He purchased a property 80km north of Goulburn, where he and his wife Shirley have 100 acres of pine forest that they have been growing for the last 30 years, and a small vegetable growing operation they use to try to offset the costs of managing the forest. Unfortunately, this is very dependent on the weather, and in a dry year, they cannot grow crops. Some years they spend most of their summers at their property, working hard and enjoying the clean air and the beauty of their surroundings.

On their property, there is a lot of native growth, with many fallen trees. From these, he salvages burls, stumps and roots.

Although Grahame had some prior wood working experience, having had a hobby of boat building, he had to learn new skills to produce his fantastic bowls and sculptural works.

These native timber pieces provide many opportunities for his wood working talents and have become a brilliant creative outlet. He enjoys working with stumps and roots because of their twisted and sculptural shapes, and with Yellow Box burls with their fantastically contorted grain, which come up brilliantly with wax polish.

Before he begins, he likes to think through the shapes and possibilities that each piece presents. Sometimes wood will stay in his workshop for a couple of years, before he is ready to work with it.

He uses a five phase procedure - chain sawing the burl off a dead tree, shaping with an Arbortech wheel™ (a mini chain saw blade on an angle grinder); rough sand with an angle grinder; fine sand by hand, and finally wax or lacquer to finish the piece. Grahame lacquers his fruit bowls to protect the timber from the hazards that fruit can present to wood.

Occasionally, he uses the 60-70 year old lathe he inherited from his father, a doctor who made furniture as a hobby.

Grahame's property also provides him with the opportunity to work with burnt wood and roots, enabling him to produce truly creative and unusual pieces. This is an opportunity few wood workers have, and the beauty of these pieces is stunning.