Sculptor and founder of Ocean Art, Christian Gundesen, is a Peninsula local who combines his deep connection to the ocean
with highly skilled artistry to produce unique sculptures that pay homage to the beauty and diversity of the sea.
The Kiwi-born artist uses cuttlebone and driftwood found on the beaches of the Mornington Peninsula to hand-carve ocean
-inspired pieces, such as a hawksbill turtle, a sea dragon, cuttlebone surfboards – and just about anything else that can be found in, or on, the water.
Having developed his trade crafting jewellery in New Zealand for several years, and with a passion for seeing what he could
create with his hands, Gundesen was inspired to start working with cuttlebone after a knee injury forced him out of the surf
for a lengthy period. Sitting on the Rye back beach watching the surfers and lamenting not being out there, Gundesen picked up some cuttlebone, snapped it in half and realised the material inside had a similar property to surf foam.
He started out making cuttlebone surfboards and then experimented with increasingly intricate works of all things great and small in the sea, testing the boundaries of what he could create from the material. Thus, Ocean Art was born.
Gundesen carves his sculptures in a home studio, where an individual piece can take between four to 100 hours to complete, depending on the size and complexity of the sculpture. Often times working at night with his beloved NZ dub artists playing in the background, Gundesen can easily find the clock tick well in to the early morning hours without him realising, such is his focus and attention to the process of the carving and the motivation of turning his vision into a reality.His attention to detail shines through on the finished product, as all pieces are fitted with custom-made frames, which Gundesen forms to fit both the shape and texture of the wood to the finished piece, both literally and figuratively, to create a cohesive work of art.
Gundesen became a Mornington Peninsula local in January 2010 after taking up a job offer in the dive industry altering wetsuits. Having free-dived for 15 years – a form of underwater ocean diving that relies on the diver’s ability to hold their breath underwater – Gundesen jumped at the opportunity to be close to the clear waters of the peninsula
beaches, which he’d visited for work years earlier.
As such, when Gundesen isn’t working his day job or creating his artwork, his spare time is spent surfing or free-diving the local back beaches, where ever the conditions allow. He’s a man who literally wears his passion on his sleeve – his left arm is adorned with an artfully drawn tattoo of an orca and a merman among the waves.
Though rarely a spare waking minute is spent out of the water, Gundesen does love grabbing a coffee at Rye’s Picknics Café where Ocean Art works can be seen, he says you really feel the sense of community that makes the area such a great place.
With recent works including a breathtaking king crab sculpture carved from driftwood and a cuttlebone Pokémon carved for an ecstatic nine-year-old, Gundesen is always thinking of new and diverse sculpture ideas. He will no doubt continue to experiment with new creations from the endless inspiration he draws from his muse – Mother Ocean.
So if you spot a smiling Kiwi on the beach collecting cuttlebone or driftwood – or whatever else has washed ashore – be sure to say “g’day”. Or as they say in the land of the long white cloud, “kia ora”.
As seen in Issue 1 of MPGL Magazine http://www.mpgl.com.au/