By Rose Astley
Have you ever wandered through the township of Maleny and noticed wonderful wooden carvings of animals in shop fronts, or happened upon large wooden sculptures of a Rhinoceros or even Ned Kelly on the Sunshine Coast?
If you have, it is very likely that you have witnessed the extraordinary talent that local man Matthew (Matty) George harbours.
These priceless pieces are not only a nod to Matty’s outstanding talent, but to his deep connection with nature and the Sunshine Coast/ Noosa region.
Matty has been a creator his whole life, always looking for ways to connect and let his creative juices flow.
“I’ve taken opportunities mainly through stories and passion,” Matty said.
“I was fairly lost at boarding school in the 80’s, my first story was from a mate telling me of his adventures with wild pigs in Outback Queensland, and to hear him talk gave me something to think about, as school didn’t really deliver the type of story that pricked my ears.
“I was always passionate about nature and ten years later after doing all sorts of jobs I discovered my dad’s chainsaw sitting in the shed.
“From that point the adventure began.
“The job of working with trees took me on this amazing journey from having no idea about life, to being highly sensitive about people’s interactions with trees … to caring about the clients and nature to achieve a balanced tree versus human style job.”
Matthew owned a tree service in Brisbane for five years, when all of a sudden in 1997 he got freight trained with cancer, twice in three months.
“Cancer reminded me to look after my health and to slow down, and that took a few years to recover from, 15-20 years it took to detox from chemo, but I’m recovered now.
“Doctors tell you’ve only got two years to go, I’m not sure why they said that, but I wasn’t worried because I had other things to do,” Matty said.
Matthy had to learn to slow right down, so he ‘could receive what life was trying to give’ him, the courage to have patience.
“In 2005 I found myself guiding safaris on Fraser Island out of Noosa, now Kagari, my dream job, it came so naturally to me.”
Matthew then went on to meet the mother of his children, he moved to Maleny where he raised his son and daughter.
“Of an evening I would chase him (his son) down the streets, we’d have the town to ourselves.
“Always would I point out the birds sleeping under the butchers awnings, spiders, geckos and even possums feeding on street trees.
“During the day I would return to pick up food and fuel and have my own visions of animals sitting on roofs here and there and enjoy this all to myself, until the day I shared my vision with a friend who happened to be in marketing.
“Well she organised a meeting to do a talk, to a table full of ears pricked guests of all ages, I arrived with about 10 carvings and my chainsaw.
“As I told them why I used this particular saw and about the animals I made, they decided to buy everything and more.
“Not long after the town had commissioned nearly 50 public carvings bought buy the shop owners and they were mounted in or above their shop creating “The Maleny Animal Trail’.”
“I’ve been carving for eleven years and thinking back I’ve carved a couple of thousand pieces from war monuments to small meaningful pendants.
“My favourite was a bullterriers head I carved for the Cairns Show Society last year, though there’s probably 200 other carvings I found hard to depart with.
Matty said that his main tools for work are 3 chainsaws, vice files and a sander, but his life time of experiences have helped him reach this point after using saws for 25 years.
“Today I am creating at the Noosa Farmers Markets a bird trail for all to enjoy, with a start of 30 birds so far they seem to have this easy going effect on people and their kids to enjoy spotting them.
“I think there’s room in our community for more recycled timber like standing tree stumps to be turned into beautiful carvings like pelicans, fish the inhabit our river or even a dog if the stump is right.
“Though native animals have right of way, after the recent bush fires I’m on a quest to raise funds with a mate, to carve burnt logs gathered from the devastated neighbourhood of Cooroibah, where a couple lost their home suddenly.
Matty said the time he spent searching for animals like snakes and lizards when he was a kid, observing animals in their natural element has given him the deep connection with nature.
“I feel badly the connection to nature, I think the most truth in my life is when I’m connected to nature, more than any other value I’ve got,” Matty said.
“That’s giving me all my values for why I do what I do and recycle and don’t interfere with nature, I don’t cut trees down, I use the best oils so if it washes away in the rain it doesn’t affect environment, I use electric saws to cut down on noise.
I don’t call myself an artist I was just getting creative in my own way, I become a chainsaw artist through feedback, not calling myself one.”
Locals who have observed these creations have been insisting that council should get behind Matty’s work and start placing these sculptures in public places for all to enjoy.
Council have been approached about the idea but are yet to make a comment.