Large as Life

Marsat carving 020 copyHave you ever looked at a polystyrene esky and thought to yourself… I could make a dugong out of that?

Using only tools he had around the home and materials found around his community, Marsat Newman, a local carpenter from Bamaga, has found magic in the mundane.

Wanting to create large scale sculptures that were also light enough to lift or hang, Marsat decided to utilise what light and malleable materials were already on hand. Collecting polystyrene eskys, he stacked layers of foam and carved them, using only his garden chainsaw, into the likeness of a mother and baby dugong.

Though the foam sculptures are not the only project this local carpenter has on the go. Using the offcuts from last years regional show wood chopping event, Marsat carved a hammer-head shark, dugong and a crocodile, each over a meter long,  each taking between 3 and 5 weeks to create.

Marsat carving 004 copy

“I wanted to try carving on a bigger scale, this is my first try,” Marsat said of the beautifully detailed carvings sitting underneath his family home in the heart of Bamaga.Marsat carving 018 copy

His art has long been influenced by the hunting culture and lifestyle of his home, on the edge of mainland Australia and the Torres Strait. The sculptures are amazingly life-like, perhaps due to Marsat’s own familiarity with the animal. As a traditional saltwater hunter, Marsat hunts both turtle and dugong in the waters of the Torres Strait. The animals are not only a source of food and a cultural rite, they are also totems for local tribes, a link to culture and heritage.

“The saltwater crocodile is my wife’s totem,” Marsat explains, “for me, these are the other animals are animals we hunt, they are a part of our life here.”