A new timber carving sits proudly at the top of the town, welcoming visitors to Erica.
The 2.5-metre-wide wooden sculpture pays homage to the town’s rich timber logging roots and replaces the ‘Top Tidy Town’ signage that has greeted guests since the 1990s.
Created by Baw Baw artist, Brandon Kroon, the piece is the latest in a collection of work that is quickly taking the timber-carving world by storm.
While participating in competitions from Alaska to Lithuania, Brandon has used his creative flair and attention to detail to bring his sculptures to life, recently taking out first place and the Carvers Choice Award at the US Open Chainsaw Carving Championships in Wisconsin, USA, with a sculpture of a saltwater crocodile and barramundi leaping out of the water.
A former motorbike mechanic, Brandon draws inspiration from his faith to create his art and says it was the driving factor in his choice when making the leap to take it on full-time and launch his own business, BK Carving.
Every piece of art, and timber, is different and presents its own set of challenges, which is something Brandon enjoys navigating in each of his creations. “Every bit of timber is different, and you can’t be sure of what you’ll find under the bark,” says Brandon. “You’ve got to be able to adapt your idea and design to the natural materials you’re working with.”
When approached by Council to create a new sculpture that welcomed people to one of Baw Baw’s historical timber towns, Brandon jumped at the opportunity.
“It was pretty humbling and pretty exciting. Being part of Baw Baw Shire, it really became a priority for me. I really wanted it to be something special,” Brandon said when asked what it was like to create artwork that represents an entire town. “I hope it represents the town as much as a sign can, and I hope it points people to the beauty of the nature that’s nestled in the area and its history in the timber industry.”
Through a Council-led consultation process with Erica residents, key themes were identified that would then be interpreted by Brandon through his concept designs. The overarching desire from the Erica community was to have a sign that acknowledged and celebrated the town’s timber logging history and the natural environment in which it sits.
The final design includes a two-person buck saw, historically used to cut timber, a log round that pays tribute to the sign’s predecessor, and native plant and animal life in the form of Eucalypt leaves and a kookaburra, which are commonly found in the Mountain Rivers Region and throughout Baw Baw.
Erica resident Bec Closter, who was involved in the inception and consultation stages of the project, said that the result really represents the town’s history, “we think it’s beautiful and love that it was done by a local artist who really understood what we were trying to achieve. Celebrating the history of the town is what the project was all about.”
The new signage is the latest nod to Erica’s timber-logging history, following the successful launch of the community-led Erica Country Expo and reintroduction of the town’s much-loved wood chop challenge, which are slated to return in 2023.
Council delivered the $6,500 project through the Victorian Government’s Bushfire Community Recovery Fund.
Quotes attributable to Mayor Councillor Annemarie McCabe
“Baw Baw Shire is full of towns that are rich in history, particularly timber towns like Erica. We are thrilled to provide this wonderful piece of art that celebrates and shines a light on the town’s past and the natural environment in the area.”
“Thank you to everyone who was involved in the project, particularly Brandon, who has done a fantastic job of capturing the ideas of the community and bringing them to life.”