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May 2024

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In early 2024, The Tablelands Regional Council approached me with a unique and exciting opportunity: restoring a series of cherished fibreglass sculptures in the Atherton area. These sculptures hold significant cultural and historical value to the local community, and I was honoured to be entrusted with their restoration. To commence this extensive project, I began with three iconic pieces: Nugget the Horse, Harry the Farmer, and Pooch the Dog, all created by artist Viv Plant...   That name's no coincidence, she happens to be my nanny.

Located beside the Eacham Historical Society, the life-size sculptures of Harry and his Clydesdale horse, Nugget are depicted towing a slide, alongside Pooch, the dog. The creation of these sculptures was a labour of love, taking Viv a dedicated 7-month period between 1998 and 1999 to complete. The sculptures are a testament to her skill and creativity, constructed using a combination of chicken wire, fibreglass, and genuine horse riding equipment to achieve a lifelike appearance.

Restoring these sculptures involved meticulous attention to detail to preserve the original artistry while ensuring their durability for years to come. Each element, from the intricate textures of the fibreglass to the authentic horse tack, requires careful examination and repair... Plus Nanny's still here at nearly 90 and ready to slap me up the head if I do a bad job.

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Each sculpture underwent an extensive process of sanding, repairing, undercoating, painting, touch-ups, and finally an overcoat. To accurately mimic Viv's unique painting style, I used weather-resistant enamel spray paints, which I carefully blended with paint brushes to achieve the desired effect. Thankfully, the structure of these sculptures proved to be durable, standing the test of time with only minimal repairs needed over the years. However, the surface of each sculpture had faded significantly and had become rugged to the touch, losing its original smoothness. To restore and preserve the original appearance and shape, I meticulously hand-sanded each sculpture until the surface was completely smooth. This painstaking process ensured that every detail was maintained, and the sculptures regained their former glory.

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Viv Plant was born in the small town of Esk in 1937. Early on, she developed a passion for the arts and later moved to Brisbane, where she attended Kelvin Grove College Of Advanced Education to study Visual Arts. Her time at the university was marked by a deepening interest in pottery, which she would carry throughout her career.

In the 1970s, Viv became a familiar face on television as an early host of the arts and crafts show WOMBAT, where she shared her expertise and enthusiasm for creative projects. Simultaneously, she taught pottery and other art classes across the Brisbane area.

In the early 1980s, Viv relocated to Magnetic Island. There, she continued her work in pottery and expanded her artistic reach by contributing frequently to the satire and culture magazine CURLEW.

By the late 1980s, Viv had moved to Far North Queensland. Here, she began crafting larger-than-life fibreglass sculptures that became iconic landmarks. Among her notable creations are Nugget The Horse in Malanda, The Reluctant Cow in Milllaa Milllaa, and The Giant Frog in Yungaburra.

Viv's work, influenced by Eric Jolliffe cartoons and surrealist forms, is marked by natural beauty and absurd humour. Over a career spanning nearly 50 years, she has left a lasting impact on the Tablelands Region, with her last life-size fibreglass sculpture being created in 2015.

Viv Plant Artist Signature
Adam Plant Artist Signature
We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Tablelands Region and pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.
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