QVMAG dips into wide world of wooden spoons

Spoons QVMAG Art Gallery


Media release issued Friday 11 February 2022

"They dined on mince, and slices of quince,

Which they ate with a runcible spoon;

"And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,

They danced by the light of the moon."

— The Owl and the Pussy-Cat, Edward Lear, 1867

The Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery is giving residents a taste of the traditional art-form of wooden spoon making.

The Art Gallery at Royal Park is showcasing a collection of wooden spoons carved by Deloraine artist Allan Lane, spanning more than 30 years.

QVMAG Acting Senior Curator of Visual Art and Design Ashley Bird said the tradition of spoon carving dated back thousands of years, with notable examples including 'Welsh love spoons' — wooden spoons presented as gifts of romantic intent — or Norwegian wedding spoons which were traditionally used by married couples on their wedding night.

'Here in Tasmania there's been a long folk art tradition of wooden spoon carving, and QVMAG has one of the largest collections of whittled wooden spoons in Tasmania,' Mr Bird said.

'I'm not sure what it is about spoons that has made carving them such an enduring past time. 

'At the risk of getting a lot of chefs off-side, I think it's perhaps the simple fact that the spoon does more in the kitchen than the knife or fork.

'A spoon is a really practical piece of cutlery that can come in useful whether you're in the outback or dining at a Michelin restaurant.

'So why do people carve them? I think spoons remind us a bit of family connections, they have a practical use, and you can whittle a spoon using simple tools.

'We all have memories of spoons, whether it's your mother feeding you medicine — 'here comes the plane' — or eating hot soup when it's cold outside.

'Even Little Miss Muffet had a spoon for her curds and whey. It's also a reasonably simple shape to carve.'

Mr Bird said the spoons made by Allan Lane were some of the most interesting he had seen.

'Allan Lane has been making wooden spoons since the mid-1980s, using a whole range of Tasmanian timbers,' he said.

'In this collection of spoons, we have myrtle, sassafras, king billy pine, huon pine, blackwood and banksia.

'There's even a tiny spoon carved out of a matchstick, and a spoon carved out of an ice cream stick.

'One of the things I love about this collection of wooden spoons in particular is there is great humour behind it.

'There's a 'fork spoon', a 'knife spoon', a spoon with a hole in it, a spoon that doubles as a pipe, and a spoon that's a musical note.

'There's even a spoon inspired by Edward Lear's poem The Owl and The Pussycat in which Lear talks about a runcible spoon — that's a spoon with elements of a spoon, a fork and a knife all in one, and we have one of those here as well.'