Tasmanian Violin Maker

Film transcript - Tasmanian Violin Maker

I am a perfectionist and that’s why I’m still where I am. I want something to last a hundred years. And hopefully it will.

I first became interested in violin making after meeting a violin maker at the Sydney woodworking show. At that time I’d just been in the military for six years, and I was looking for a different path in life. Sometimes it’s not until you try something that you actually realise what you want.

I felt within me that I had a creative side that I wanted to discover.

When I’m building, I’m really building something that is my child, really. In a sense it has a soul, and I want it to be the best that it can be it.

It’s very important to me, to be connected to my work, that’s one of the great pleasures in life is to have finally have found work that you enjoy and is rewarding.

One of the things I enjoy most about violin making is that it is so difficult. There’s a tremendous amount of time involved, certainly maybe more my lifetime. And I find that quite satisfying that one day I’ll be challenged essentially until I stop building instruments.

The skills that I’ve acquired have come over many years of persistence and hard work and the desire just to do everything as best as I can. And taking the time to look at the great Italian masters and the way they built their instruments, and using them as a source of inspiration for higher craftsmanship.

I was at the National Folk Festival in Canberra and I saw a Hardanger fiddle and I thought – what is that? It’s a violin essentially in its outline but it has many differences. The main one being that it has sympathetic strings, which resonate when the top ones are being played.

Also that the, instead of the scroll on the end of the violin, the Norwegians have a lion’s head carved on there and they’re also very highly decorated. Being completely built from Tasmanian timbers, I thought it was fitting that I should use a Tasmanian animal as the head of my instrument. And the black heart Sassafras, I think, is well suited to the Tasmanian devil head.

One of the sweetest moments in instrument making is putting a bow on the strings for the very first time. And to finally hear something speak to you, is sort of like having a baby in your arms for the first time. There’s a connection and a communication channel that’s been opened up.

And that then leaves you with a relationship to then work on.