Errol B. Davis - Australian sculptor and artist (1926-2009)
From his early teens, Errol Davis was crazy about model warships and planes – but this was before the days of kits, so Errol made his own models from scratch by referring to plans in books such as Janes Fighting Ships. His model ships were carved from wood, complete with guns, cranes, rigging, portholes and crew, and Errol made hundreds of them in his teenage years.
As there was no radar until the end of WWII, the Volunteer Air Observers Corps was formed, with members trained to recognise enemy aircraft, and Errol was asked to make models of every type of aircraft. The models were 172nd scale, so a fighter plane was about 6 inches long and a bomber was about a foot.
A few years after graduating from the University of Sydney as an engineer, Errol travelled to London where he studied sculpture at the Regent Street Polytechnic. Although he had already made his first sculpture in Australia, London was inspirational to him and he created several early works there.
After returning to Australia in 1955 Errol pioneered the field of architectural scale modelmaking, in which he worked and taught for three decades, constructing models of most of Sydney’s CBD buildings in the 1960s. His 1976 model of Ancient Rome is still in use today at the Australian National University.
Inspired by the contours of relief maps he had made, Errol went on to develop sculptures using the same technique in the 1980s. These were cast in bronze and aluminium, and later on they also inspired his groundbreaking laser-cut stainless steel works in the 1980s-90s.
Throughout his lifetime of creativity Errol worked in most media – notably stainless steel, bronze and wool.
Errol generously encouraged and nurtured upcoming artists. His enduring legacy is the Sculpture Park at Macquarie University which he established in 1992, the year of its Silver Jubilee of teaching. It features around 130 sculptures by leading and emerging sculptors, and is where you can see many of his own works.
In 2002 Errol was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to the arts, particularly through the establishment of the Sculpture Park at Macquarie University.
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Photography on this page is © CFL Macquarie; © Errol Davis; © Peter Stanbury (warplane); © Bob Miller (Ancient Rome).