South West Artist Uses Art to Send Environmental Message at Sculptures by The Sea

For over 50 years, Neil Turner has farmed the WA Wheatbelt, where he experienced everything about the land – sparse rainfall, soil erosion, wind, fire. Then, moving to Stratham, the now Bunbury resident has exchanged farming tools with woodwork equipment to share important messages about our environment in an artistic manner.  

“My mother was an artist, so growing up, oil paints, cake decorating, and china painting always surrounded me. From an early age at school, I remember enjoying the art classes, then later in high school, tech drawing, woodwork and metalwork, so I have always enjoyed working with my hands. My passion for woodwork culminated from a family friend who wanted a lampstand, so five lathes later, three workshops with Steven Hughes and Vic Wood opened my mind to the fact that lathe-turned objects could be a canvas for art. So I started to explore carving on turning every Sunday on my day off from the farm.

Woodturning in the early years © Neil Turner


“Working the land, you see and experience everything about the power of nature, and I draw on environmental influences that affect me on the farm and now through my coastal lifestyle to create art that reminds people of the importance of looking after the land we live on and draw life from.”

Indeed, Neil’s unique message of the ageless trait of our throw-away cultures in the form of five amphorae (ceramic jars) was what captured the interest of the judges of the world-class public art event – Sculptures by the Sea.

Neil is one of 70 artists from 14 countries whose artwork has been chosen for exhibition at the 2022 Sculptures by the Sea, from 4 – 21 March at Cottesloe Beach, a perfect setting to share his environmental message.

“Throughout the ages, containers have been used to transport materials. In Ancient Greece, amphorae (ceramic jars) were cheap, plentiful and easily discarded – like the plastic bottles of today – littering the Ocean,” explained Neil.

“My Sculptures by the Sea installation comprises of five amphorae-like objects, cast in Jesmonite from a mould of my hand-turned wooden vessel, made to look like clay. Positioned to appear to have been washed up on the beach as a time-travelling reminder of the persistent human behaviour to pollute and endanger our oceans.”

“Through my Sculptures by the Sea art installation, I hope to provide a visual reminder of the impact of waste on our beautiful oceans and marine life, and motivate people to make a considered decision on what they do with their rubbish, to lessen our environmental footprint.”

Neil will continue to spread his message of seeing, appreciating and experiencing nature via his wooden sculpture exhibition at the Indian Ocean Craft Triennial October and installation of two pieces of public art at the new Koolinup Emergency Centre in Collie, both in October, and private commissions for collectors in the USA.

Neil Turner — image by Rae Fallon


Those keen to view Neil’s latest artwork in the Perth metro region are encouraged to attend the Perth Art Upmarket on Saturday 16 October at UWA, which Neil has indicated might be inspired by his upcoming travel to the Goldfields region.

More information on Neil: and Perth Art Upmarket: