By Lara Knight
225 Catani Boulevard, Bend of Islands, Victoria (near Kangaroo Ground).
COVID UPDATE: Tread’s monthly open weekends are currently cancelled but small groups can visit by appointment.
Sculpture with a smile. Literally! I don’t know how Tim gets such joyful expression into scrap metal but his kooky characters always brighten my day.
Tread Sculptures joined The Junk Map in 2015 and it’s been wonderful to follow Tim’s work and help build a national profile that sees commissions travelling to NSW, Queensland, Perth and around Australia.
In the background, Tim and his family have built a lovely art destination at Bend of Islands, an environmental conservation precinct on the edge of Melbourne. Their private gallery and sculpture trail is open to the public one weekend a month, and it’s a perfect day trip out of the city with friends or visitors. Explore somewhere new and find a unique garden feature or cheeky critter for your collection.
I asked Tim to share all the details:
What inspired the idea for a sculpture trail that the public can visit
Tim: I am lucky enough to have my home and studio in a unique place: an environmental living zone with lots of flora and fauna. It is 5 acres of native bush on the Yarra River. I love it here and thought a sculpture trail is not only is a great way to display my artwork, it gives people an opportunity to experience the Bend of Islands, a place that they would never otherwise come to.
When is the sculpture trail open?
Tim: We are officially open the first weekend of every month, Saturday and Sunday 10am to 4pm. But people can ring and make a time to visit just about anytime. I am in the studio a lot!
Describe the trail and what people find along the way.
Tim: The trail is a single walking track through native bush with artwork to discover along the way. As you wander you need to keep your eyes out for sculptures tucked away here and there, from native animals and insects, through to contemporary shiny pieces often incorporating hand made glass, ceramics and paint, all done by other artists that have studios within 15 min from here.
You will come across a section where a large concrete water tank burst. This has been made into a unique display area for wall mounted and freestanding sculptures.
You will walk through a beautiful gully, with mosses and native grasses, and then come out into an open bollard garden, with an organic curved art wall for hanging work.
Then back into the bush for a walk by the river that includes a large steel crocodile named Bender, floating in the river on an old pontoon.
Then it’s back to the kitchen for a cuppa and biscuit before heading up to explore the studio, boneyard, and contemporary gallery space with hand made furniture and indoor sculpture.
How long does it take to walk around?
Tim: If you walked quickly along the trail you would do it in under 10 minutes, however there is so much to see along the way, often including native wildlife and wild flowers or orchards. People can spend up to an hour or more taking in the whole experience.
How often do you add new work?
Tim: New work is being added all the time. Often when I finish a piece in the studio I take it straight out and find a spot for it. It is important to me that people find new work out here any time they visit.
I notice you collaborate with other artists on some pieces. How does that work?
Tim: I enjoy being a metal sculptor, but also appreciate how well steel can work with other mediums. This area is rich with artists, many of whom have become friends. To take pieces of their artwork and incorporate them into a steel piece is an absolute pleasure, and it means that I am creating very different work. Being an artist is often quite solitary, which I really like. But having days with other artists in the studio, as well as being company, pushes my creativity in ways I couldn’t achieve on my own.
Is work on the sculpture trail for sale?
Tim: Most work on the property is for sale with prices clearly marked on each piece so people can consider a purchase without feeling pressured or needing to ask for a price.
How do children react to finding sculptures in the bush?
Tim: We have a kids adventure map that gives them steel animals they need to check off the list to get a lollipop at the end. They love it and it gives parents a chance to explore properly.
What would you like visitors to take away from the experience?
Tim: I want people to feel connected to the landscape, the artwork, and myself. To feel they have had an adventure, a mindful pause in their otherwise busy lives.
Last weekend a couple drove down from Sydney to pick up a commissioned piece. When leaving after a couple of hours of exploring they said to me, “Well, we didn’t expect that.” I replied, “Expect what?” And they said, “We didn’t expect a sculpture walk and a contemporary gallery space. And we definitely didn’t expect to be sitting at your kitchen bench drinking coffee and eating stewed plums and yoghurt!”
They left to go back to Sydney with a carload of sculpture, big smiles on their faces, and the feeling of having had a unique adventure.
The Tread Sculptures gallery and sculpture trail is at 225 Catani Boulevard, Bend of Islands, Victoria. It’s open to small groups by appointment during COVID restrictions. Tim Read 0405 101 001. treadsculptures.com.au
View our Tread Sculptures profile.