Sculpting a fine career

Tristan WheelerManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Boyup Brook artist Sandy Chambers is still sculpting at age 93.
Camera IconBoyup Brook artist Sandy Chambers is still sculpting at age 93. Credit: Tristan Wheeler/Manjimup-Bridgetown Times, Tristan Wheeler

Boyup Brook artist Sandy Chambers does not plan to stop anytime soon, despite reaching 93 years of age.

He has exhibited work at Sculpture by the Bay in Dunsborough and is working on a soapstone recreation of a swag man.

“I’ve wanted to do this sculpture for a fair while,” he said.

Sandy has work situated throughout Boyup Brook, including sand sculptures at the public swimming pool and a number of murals.

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“I’ve got three murals and four sculptures, I’ve been busy,” he said.

“It’s been home for us, because we were looked after initially.”

Sandy has worked in a number of different mediums, including sand sculpture and most recently holographic statues, that appear to be looking at the viewer when the viewer is within a particular range.

“I’ve been told I’m the only one in Australia who is doing this,” he said.

Sandy and his wife Jacqui emigrated to Australia in 1964 and immediately moved to Boyup Brook.

“I had work waiting for me, I joined the local builder,” he said.

While working as a builder, Sandy had a car crash that fractured his spine and left him unable to stand fully upright.

During the period of recovery, Sandy said the town of Boyup Brook had looked after him and his wife Jacqui, at a time when they did not have any income.

“I was three months on my back with a fractured spine and I was in hospital here.

“The people of Boyup Brook heard what had happened and they were good.

“The people looked after us and I thought, I’d try and look after Boyup Brook.”

Despite his accident, Sandy’s determination to get out of the hospital surprised its staff.

“The doctor came around and I said ‘how long am I going to be here’?”

“He said until you can walk to the toilet on your own.”

The next morning with the assistance of a nurse, Sandy surprised the doctor.

“In chronic pain I rolled out off the bed onto this gurney and I pushed myself out into the corridor and across to the toilet and I heard the doctor and the matron coming down the corridor, so I pushed my way out.”

This effort was much to the surprise of the doctor, who asked what Sandy was doing, to which he replied that the doctor said he could go home when he could walk to the toilet.

Sandy’s career as a sculptor started when he was apprenticed to Mohammed Thomas Phillips at age 14.

The onset of World War II disrupted his sculpting career and Sandy was assigned to work in coal mines, to replace miners who had signed up to serve.

After the war was over, Sandy assumed it was acceptable to leave the coal mines and go home, which led to him being sentenced to another two and a half years in the army, which saw him deploy to Palestine as a peacekeeper.

Upon leaving the army, he was engaged as the house carpenter for the Marquis of Exeter before constructing airfields and working as a builder before emigrating to Australia.

Sandy restarted his sculpting career when his son took over the building business 35 years ago.

“It was my time to go back to sculpting,” he said.

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