Art of the Ocean

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Christian Gundesen may well be the only person in the world who makes ocean-themed
sculptures out of cuttlefish bone. The Rye-based artist is fast making a name for himself
for his unique and astounding creations, some of which take hundreds of hours to
meticulously craft.

A keen surfer and diver with a deep appreciation for the ocean, Christian one day
realised that cuttlefish bone had a similar texture to surfboard foam. He began making
little replica surfboards, using hand files to shape and mould the bone. While the replica
boards became very popular, Christian desired to explore under the sea and expand
on his craft.

He decided to up the ante by sculpting an abalone shell from cuttlebone. Next came a
mussel shell and, he stepped it up, with a complex weedy sea dragon. What followed
was a newfound confidence, and a whole ocean of weird and wonderful creatures to create.

“After that, I thought, ‘I can make anything’.” Seahorses, sharks, turtles, manta rays,
humpback whales, a pod of dolphins and a pelican with a fish in its mouth are just some
of the subjects Christian has successfully completed.

He is currently working on a school of 30 hammerhead sharks, which has taken more
than 200 hours and is likely to be donated for an auction. “It’s always hard to think of
something different,” says the artist. This is where collborating with his partner, a graphic
designer, comes in handy. Together, they work on the composition of the pieces and
their mutual creativity is a huge asset to the finished product.

New Zealand-born Christian has always been good with his hands. He moved to Australia
to take on a job in wetsuit repairs, in which there are only a selected few in the country who
still perform this rare and difficult skill. In his spare time, he enjoys freediving and
takes beautiful underwater photographs, which is where the inspiration for many of his
sculptures comes from.

When it comes to his art, Christian is incredibly patient, even when a piece breaks five
or six times. Once a commissioned sculpture is complete, he takes great pride in
witnessing the joy his clients get when they see it for the first time. People drive from
all across Australia to collect the works.

While his partner, Josie, manages the ordering process for his work, clients finally get
to meet the artist when they collect their piece. This personal element to Christian’s
work is also something people love.

“I only ever wanted to be an artist if I could find something unique to do,” he says.
“I feel blessed that I’ve been able to come across this.” When people see Christian’s work
for the first time and realise the detailed sea creatures are made from cuttlefish bone,
their reaction is typically the same. “They usually swear,” he says with a laugh.

See more of Christian’s work on his recently launched website, and learn more about
the interesting sea creatures he sculpts at

You can also follow ‘Christian Gundesen Oceanart’ on Facebook.

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» Editorials » Art of the Ocean
On May 1, 2015

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