River People

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Artist: John Wood
Title: The River People
Installed: 2015
Materials: Textured hot forged medium carbon mild steel
Location: Tarcutta & Forsyth Street roundabout, Wagga Wagga

Local artist John Wood drew inspiration for The River People from the iconic and majestic River Red Gum tree, which have stood guard over the Murrumbidgee banks for thousands of years. Fallen branches have journeyed from previous floods, or simply broken free from a tree trunk and lay sculpturally upon the land. The branches have provided shelter and formed their own micro environments.

John said, “As our city’s population grows, so does our environmental footprint. The human like shapes formed from branches and trunks symbolise our co-existence with the region’s most prominent natural feature, the Murrumbidgee River.”

Shapes and images perceived by the viewer will change depending on the angle or position of the viewer, as well as the time of day and lighting conditions. John sees each figure representing a choice or a life direction for the many people who come through Wagga to study or train in their profession.

Surrounding the base of each figure is a flat circular plinth of resin set with recycled crushed glass to connect the four figures representing the Murrumbidgee.

The sculptural figures have been fabricated from heavily textured hot forged medium carbon mild steel solid bar, engineered to comply to engineering and road safety specifications.

The River People were forged from 100 and 120mm, 1045 grade solid round bar which taper to 75mm at ground level. After forging the components of each figure were pressed to form, with the tightest bend requiring 750 tonnes of pressure to achieve the shape. The artwork has been hot dipped galvanised and a painted layer to achieve the final finish.

John Wood is a practicing blacksmith, designing, making, and installing architectural and sculptural metal work since 1999.

Wood's work is a response to his regional and rural environment designing large scale works that have sense of place, belonging and soulful purpose reflecting his rural roots.

Shape and form, juxtaposing organic and geometric lines are prominent in Wood’s work. His sculptures reference the co-existence of built and natural environments, influenced by the American abstract sculptor Albert Paley and the beauty of English artist blacksmith Brian Russell, whom he trained with in 2005.

Wood has won several large scale public art commissions for public collections along with numerous private commissions.