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Local Gippsland artist Jo Caminiti sculpture coming soon to Drouin Civic Park as part of Baw Baw Shire Council $1.48M park upgrade project

Gippsland artist Jo Caminiti, combining art and science comes naturally, inspiring others to pursue their lifelong passions no matter the condition they're in.

By news@gippsland - 15th March 2022 - Back to News

Since December 2021, Gippsland artist Jo Caminiti has been hard at work in her Cowwarr workshop, where she's been sketching, cutting, bending, and welding her biggest project to date - a 300kg metal sculpture that will soon take its place in Drouin's Civic Park, as the final piece to council's $1.48 million park upgrade project.

Jo putting a piece of the ficifolia statue together on her fathers old welding table

Jo putting a piece of the ficifolia statue together on her fathers old welding table

Lifelong passion

The metal sculpture will pay homage to the Corymbia Ficifolia, or red flowering gum, that can be frequently found around Drouin and is celebrated annually with the town's Ficifolia Festival. For Jo, creating the ficifolia sculpture is the combination of two lifelong passions: art and the science of nature.

Drawing inspiration from her father, who Jo would help when he was collecting and creating things out of scrap metal on the family farm, she learnt from an early age that almost everything can be reused to make something new - no matter the condition it was in.

It wasn't just Jo's father who inspired her and fuelled her artistic passion, though. Jo's mother taught her how to draw anatomically correct animals, and she remembers drawing horses as a girl by using simple shapes to get the proportions right, skills that she still uses today when sketching her sculpture ideas.

Jo's leap of faith, a flying horse statue that sits outside her workshop

Jo's leap of faith, a flying horse statue that sits outside her workshop

Pursuing full time art

As Jo grew older, she explored her love of nature through science and art, but ultimately had to make a choice about which career path she would pursue and ended up gravitating towards a career in science in high school. She enjoyed a 30-year career in natural resource management and sustainability that saw her work in local and state government, working with the CSIRO and other organisations managing the state's waterways and working towards a sustainable future.

Although Jo's career took a scientific route, she maintained her artistic hobbies and would do the odd workshop to learn new skills, and for a time was a member of the Wildlife Art Society of Australasia where she would participate in their annual exhibitions, combining her scientific eye for detail with her creative flair.

In 2016, Jo decided it was time to pursue her art full time and after setting up her studio and honing her new skills, she created her first large scale sculpture - a flying horse that now sits proudly outside of her workshop and symbolises her leap of faith.

Sculpture for civic park

Jo then set her sights on a new piece that she could exhibit and display in multiple locations, one that she could use to launch her artistic career. This is when she created her 'Fighting Roos' statue, which she exhibited at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show in 2017. It was at this time that Jo was successful in applying for the Creative Gippsland Come and Play in May residency with local community group the Friends of Drouin's Trees.

The residency saw Jo collaborate with the Friends of Drouin's Trees and council's Cultural Development Officer to paint portraits of Drouin's 10 remnant giant gums in 10 days. Following the successful residency, council's Civic Park project team approached Jo about creating a concept sculpture for Civic Park as part of the masterplan development for the site.

Inspiring others

When asked how she thinks she'll feel once the project is over, Jo said: "At first, I'll feel a massive relief that it's complete. After that, it will feel amazing to see it standing there in the park. Being my first commissioned sculpture that I have created from concept to construction will be a lovely feeling, just being able to point it out to people and say that's my work."

Jo hopes that the artwork will inspire others to get in touch with their creative side and pursue their passions. Three years removed from her initial concept, the masterplan has been adopted, the project funded, and construction of the new playground completed, Jo is out in her workshop, using:

  • Spoons
  • Chicken wire
  • Saucepans
  • Pipes
  • Sheets of metal

While welding away on her dad's old welding table to add the final touches to the lifelike gumnuts, leaves, flowers, and bees that will complete her latest masterpiece - a combination of her lifelong passions.

A close up of Jo's 'Fighting Roos' sculpture that launched her career as an artist

A close up of Jo's 'Fighting Roos' sculpture that launched her career as an artist

Supporting local artists

Mayor Michael Leaney said, "Baw Baw Shire Council is proud to incorporate works of public art in our major projects. Not only does this support local artists but helps make our towns vibrant and enjoyable places to live."

"I can't wait to see Jo's incredible piece be installed in Drouin's Civic Park, where it will celebrate the town and inspire the next generation of artists." Mayor Leaney said.

Pictures from Baw Baw Shire Council website.


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