Installation view of Craig Murphy-Wandin’s work <em>Man in dreaming</em> 2022 on display as part of the <em>Melbourne Now</em> exhibition at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne from 24 March – 20 August 2023. Image: Tom Ross

Craig Murphy-Wandin

Craig Murphy-Wandin
(Wurundjeri/Woiwurrung, b. 1975 Healesville, Victoria. Lives and works in Healesville)

Craig Murphy-Wandin is a proud Wurundjeri and Woiwurrung man who was born, lives and works in Healesville, on the ancestral lands of his grandfather. Using both traditional Indigenous and contemporary techniques, his practice centres on woodwork and is informed by his experience working as a carpenter and horticulturist. Murphy-Wandin first started working creatively with wood by making message sticks, clapping sticks and smoking ceremony bowls as a way of reconnecting with his culture.

Man in dreaming, 2022, is a new work made from manna gum. ‘One day walking by the river, I came across a fallen manna gum with a burl that appeared significant to me’, says Murphy-Wandin. ‘Burls are provided when the tree has died or fallen. I follow the custom of my people by only taking what I need and giving back as a gift for someone to learn from.’

Murphy-Wandin collected the burl and, during the carving process, became aware of a figure apparent in the grain. The burl was then soaked for ten days to prevent cracking and a mixture of gum tree sap and water, which acts as a resin, was applied to colour and accentuate the wood’s natural qualities.

‘When working with the manna gum, I am guided by the stories that naturally occur, grained within the burl, seeking to enhance what is already there and share with others the natural beauty of the Australian bush and my culture’, explains Murphy-Wandin.