Life On The Job


CABINETMAKER: Geoff Hannah 1948 -

Geoff Hannah in workshop
Geoff Hannah in his workshop
(Source:
Stories by Pip)
Geoff Hannah carrying the USQ Mace
Churchill Fellow, Honorary Fellow of Southern Cross University and master craftsman Geoffrey Hannah carried the University Mace
September 2013
(Source: SCU)

Geoff Hannah was born in 1948 in the Northern Rivers Region of NSW and studied as an apprentice cabinetmaker from the age of fifteen before starting his own business in 1973.

Awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 1980, Geoff travelled to England and France to study furniture from the period 1635–1850. Time spent in the workshops of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and the Palace of Versailles, France, were particular highlights of his study tour, as were his special privileges and after hours visits in the Louvre, Paris. (Source: Bungendore Info)

"An apprentice at 15, Mr Hannah later won a Churchill Scholarship to hone his considerable skills in the workshops of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and the Palace of Versailles, France." (Source: Canberra Times)

Introduction

"A country boy at heart, Geoffrey grew up in the Lismore area and spent most of his childhood years working and playing with wood. He was raised on a few different farms: one at Busby’s Flat near Casino, then later at Wyrallah (just south-east of Lismore) before his parents moved to a property at Coorabell, near Byron Bay. “We lived near a sawmill for a while and Dad used to ring home old wooden fridge crates, so we’d pull those apart and put them back together, make things from them.

Map showing Lismore
(Source: Sydney.com)

“My Dad was a sleeper and girder cutter and I can still see him and my Mum out in the bush with a cross-cutter and a stringline and it was gut-busting work chopping trees and wood in those days, no technology around then!”

Geoffrey left school at 14 and got a job with Brown and Jolly, one of New South Wales’ biggest furniture and electric retailing businesses at the time. “That was where I started my apprenticeship as a cabinet maker, but I didn’t just learn cabinet making, I learnt a whole range of skills like polishing and upholstery, so it all added to the skill set I have today.”

In 1973, he started his own business and he began setting his sights on building furniture with more of a European flavour. “I began doing more carving and inlay work and I was making an antique, European style of antique furniture – the sorts of pieces they used to make centuries ago.” That’s another thing that makes Geoff’s creations so unique: if you’ve never been to a museum in Europe, you’ve probably never seen anything like them. “There aren’t too many people out there building furniture like this because it takes a lot more time, resources and effort than many craftsmen can afford.”

At 61 years old, Geoff doesn’t look the slightest bit his age. He was awarded a Churchill Fellow back in 1980 and travelled to London and Paris for several months to study furniture.

Churchill Fellowship
(Source: Churchill Trust)

He was just last year awarded the title of Honorary Fellow from the Southern Cross University and aside from running his own business, Geoff has taught cabinet making at universities and arts associations throughout Australia and currently teaches from his workshop in Lismore.

Honorary Fellow of SCU
19/9/2009: Geoff Hannah with his wife, Rhonda, and grandchildren (left to right),
Sonny Hannah, 6, Adam Murray, 10, Daisy Hannah, 7, and Hannah-May Murray, 8 - After receiving the Honorary Fellow of SCU
(Source: SCU)

“My work keeps me young. When I’m not away working, I’m in my workshop here day and night, from about 730am – 530pm religiously.” (Source: Our Patch)

“By 1986 I had my first solo exhibition and as I was winning furniture-making awards, I decided to stop making commissioned pieces and just concentrate on building the things I wanted to build for myself, which gave me more artistic freedom … but then of course I had to find a market for them.”

Finding that market has not been a problem for this master craftsman. One of Geoff’s cabinets resides in the private entrance hall in the Governor-General’s residence in Yarraluma, Canberra; another, the ‘Australiana Cabinet’ was sold to a private collector in Antwerp, Belgium."
(Source: Southern Cross University)

Geoff Hannah also tutors at the University of Southern Queensland:

USQ

Example of Geoff Hannah's work
Example of Geoff Hannah's work (USQ)

Links:

Far North Coaster - Geoff Hannah's latest work is that of a master craftsman

Far North Coaster

Northern Star Geoff Hannah from Lismore.

News
Listen to Geoff Hannah being interviewed by ABC's Richard Fidler....1st December 2009


Geoff Hannah
Conversations with Richard Fidler - talking with Geoff Hannah, cabinetmaker from Lismore
ABC - Video of Geoff Hannah showing The Hannah Cabinet

ABC Video of Geoff Hannah

Design Arts Australian Online

DAAO
 

 

Did You Know?

The Hannah Cabinet

The Hannah Cabinet
 (Source:
Canberra Times)


The Hannah Cabinet is the most ambitious piece of furniture that Geoffrey Hannah has made by 2009.

It is the result of over 5000 hours of labour and contains 34 fine timbers and veneers, 17 types of stone, four types of shell, and 23-carat gold leaf.

It has 18 doors and 140 drawers. The predominant timber used is Brazilian mahogany, with solid ebony columns and 23-carat gold gilding. Other materials include tortoise, abalone and mother-of-pearl shells, jasper, agate, tiger eye, malachite, lapis lazuli and ruby.

The work contains exquisite, highly detailed marquetry depicting birds and flora. Some of these images are clear to view, others are carefully hidden, under drawers and within the various nooks and crannies of the cabinet.

The process of looking at The Hannah Cabinet is one of continual discovery. It is designed so you can open out each of the successive layers to discover cabinets within the cabinet and drawers within drawers.
(Source: Far North Coaster)

Geoff Hannah's cabinet
 (Source:
Canberra Times)


"For more than six years the cabinet maker built a shrine to his parents [David and Ruth] using 34 different types of timber, leaving surprises like pretty rosellas behind the doors and at the end of tortoiseshell-lined drawers.

There's 140 handmade drawers in all, small ones in nests, long, slender ones inlaid with precious stones that glide open with precision, or sink softly into place.

To shade the wildlife in different hues the master craftsman scorched the veneers in hot sand."
(Source: Canberra Times)



Hannah Cabinet

Activities

Create a similar sketch [to Geoff Hannah] of an Australian bird

PrimaryPrimary MiddleMiddle  High SchoolSecondary

ICT Capability Australian Curriculum General Capability: ICT Capability

Critical & Creative ThinkingAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Critical & Creative Thinking

1. Research the Australian Birdlife using the following websites:

Birdlife Australia

Birdlife Australia
Australian Museum - Birds

Australian Museum

2. Select a particular Australian bird you wish to draw. What setting will you place your bird? ie. In a Tree? In water? In a particular landscape - desert, rainforest, beach?

See the native bird that Geoff Hannah has used in The Hannah Cabinet: it has a snake in one of its claws:

Bird with Snake

3. Research the different types of Australian woods - their colour and texture. In the picture above, Geoff Hannah has used a variety of different woods to show the red of the eye, the black of the feathers, the grey of the snake, the brown of the grasses and more.

Australian Timber

Australian Hardwoods


Introduction to Species Guides [look under each section to see the examples].

Australian Woods
Australian Wood Samples

Australian Wood samples


See the other examples of Geoff Hannah's work:

Inlays

4. Use Sketch n Paint to create a sketch of an Australian bird similar to Geoff Hannah's bird above and indicate which Australian timber you would use.

Sketch n Paint

Sketch n Paint

 

Material sourced from 

Bungendore Info

Canberra Times

Churchill Trust

 Our Patch

Southern Cross University

University of Southern Queensland

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