Since we returned to Nelson we have been discovering all kinds of things, emerging as we sort through stuff that we had left behind. One such item was a card from the widow of a local artist, Theodore Arnold Gustafson. This is the first of several posts about this gifted person.
TAG, as he signed himself, was a master craftsman whose work we had admired for years. His great skill in dealing with wood produced the most wonderful, zany items.
A small 2D picture cannot do more than give a hint of the magic Chris refers to. The completely life-sized dresser looks as if it has been placed a little too close to the fire and begun to soften and melt in one corner. The violin has a broken string, a cat lies sleeping one of the drawers, a tie hangs over the mirror and a belt from a drawer, a bunch of parched flowers sits in a small vase and somehow all the various possessions of its owner are managing to avoid sliding off. Every single thing is beautifully crafted from wood.
In the words of his widow, Chris: “He made wood sculpture incorporating and rearranging what he saw about him. The mundane and ordinary often inspired his work, which did not happen in isolation. You, the viewer, were always part of the process and for this he was so deeply grateful. Suffering from a severe general anxiety disorder for many years, he still managed to create magical pieces that brought joy and delight to those who saw them. This work is now at an end, your pleasure is ongoing.”
We saw The Dresser on display at various galleries, here and over in Golden Bay. We often talked about buying something, but could never quite decide. We did eventually managed to obtain one of his works – we were extremely lucky to do so, but that is for another post.