Wootha winner 2024: talking to Rick Hayward, $10k prizewinner

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The winners of the annual Wootha Prize for woodworkers are revealed and displayed along with all selected entries as the showpiece of the Maleny Wood Expo which this year ran from 4–6 June.

This year's main $10,000 Sunshine Coast Wootha Prize was award to Brisbane based woodworker Rick Hayward for his Monochrome Cabinet, shown above and in detail below. The judges for the 2024 Wootha Prize were Damion Fauser, Carol Russell and last year's Wootha winner, Derek Calderwood.

The Monochrome Cabinet was Rick's major work at Sturt School for Wood in 2023. He commented: "Taking cues from Gerrit Rietveld’s ‘intentional miss’ junctions which allude to the idea of the infinite, the cabinet was made with Qld silver ash and 22k Moon Gold on reeded glass."

We asked Rick a few questions about his very recent success:

What does winning the Wootha Prize mean to you?
Winning the prize is really encouraging at this stage of my career, and especially as it was the 25th anniversary of Maleny Wood Expo!

You graduated from Sturt School for Wood in 2023. Have you always been a woodworker, or did you have a prior career?
After finishing High School in 2000 with a focus on art and woodwork I took up a Sign Writing apprenticeship. Since 2011 I've had a creative studio in Brisbane doing design, traditional hand painted signs, and large scale mural commissions. Through this work I would occasionally make signs with plywood, but it was when I framed artworks for my first solo exhibition in 2020 that I was reminded of how much I enjoyed working with solid timber and this led me to the Brisbane School of Fine Furniture with Roy Schack.


What's your woodworking path been since then? Are you making a career of it now?
I completed Roy's foundations course in 2021, and spent some time at his workshop throughout 2022. Sturt School for Wood had been on my radar for a little while and felt like the next logical progression,  and I was fortunate to complete the year long course there last year.


I see this work as an extension to the creative work I've been doing for over a decade. While I'm focused on exhibition pieces that fuse my conceptual interests and exisiing skillset working with gold leaf techniques, I'm certainly open to commissions!


The $10,000 prize money is significant! Do you have any workshop needs that the money could go towards?
It certainly is and I'm beyond grateful to have been awarded it! With a focus on traditional hand-cut joinery in my practice, I will be investing in some hand tools initially and setting aside the rest for basic machinery for my own workshop in the future.

What are your plans for the future?
Monochrome Cabinet was my major work at Sturt, and my first attempt at blurring the line between artwork and cabinet. I'm interesting in exploring the intersection of art and craft further, and spending plenty of time at my workbench!

Images of the Monochrome Cabinet by Daniel Mulheran

Learn more about Rick Hayward

Category winners for Wootha Prize


The Wootha Prize also includes four category awards. First place $2,500 for Sculpture was awarded to Keith Savage for Flow (above).


This year William Bayliss took out $2,500 first place Furniture category for his Mundi Mundi Entrance Table which was inspired by by the sunrise landscape over the Mundi Mundi plains.


Tiny Treasures winner was awarded to King Quail, carved from gidgee (above left) by Ted Upton, while Paul Chapman took out first place for Our Obi Obi in the Evolve category. 

For more information see malenywoodexpo.com




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