Chainsaw artist featured in new doco

Director Ryan Gaskett loved watching the backyard as a kid and says it’s like an outdoor gallery.

In 2003, Conkie created a soldier and other pieces for the Greensborough War Memorial Park, which lasted 14 years until they got old and were replaced with new pieces carved by Kodama, aided by Conkie .

Gaskett said Conkie may seem intimidating at first – he’s 190 centimeters tall, and then there’s the chainsaw – but when you get to know him, he’s generous and he trusted Gaskett to tell the story.

Says Conkie from the movie: “There are a few squeaky things, but I have to get over my own ego.”

Leigh Conkie's asylum seeker room, outside the former headquarters of <i>The Age</i> at Collins Street. “loading =” lazy “src =”$zoom_0.081%2C$multiply_0.4233%2C$ratio_0.666667%2C$width_378%2C$x_0% 2C $ y_0 / t_crop_custom / q_86% 2Cf_auto / 2c9d41b36fe43c6b677171b88ed15a08f14c8638 “height =” 240 “width =” 160 “srcset =”$zoom0.081%2C$233$$ ratio_0.666667% 2C $ width_378% 2C $ x_0% 2C $ y_0 / t_crop_custom / q_86% 2Cf_auto / 2c9d41b36fe43c6b677171b88ed15a08f14c8638,$066$081$081 .666667% 2C $ width_378% 2C $ x_0% 2C $ y_0 / t_crop_custom / q_62% 2Cf_auto / 2c9d41b36fe43c6b677171b88ed15a08f14c8638 2x “/></picture></div><figcaption class=

The asylum seeker exhibit by Leigh Conkie, outside the former headquarters of Age in Collins Street.Credit:David Gazzo

In late 2014, Gaskett filmed Conkie sculpting an asylum seeker holding a baby. He then installed it, at 2 a.m., on the lawn of Age‘s then seat at Collins Street.

“We did it like a bank robbery,” says Conkie. Security guards removed the sculpture within hours, but Conkie had made his point – raising awareness of refugee issues and generating thousands of “likes” online.

“The drama seems to follow me everywhere,” says Conkie.

He has survived a frontal car crash in the past, and since the filming of the film has undergone quadruple heart bypass surgery in which he nearly died and underwent hip replacement surgery.

“We’re joking that he has nine lives,” Gaskett said. “People say Leigh is the Keith Richards of chainsaw carving. We had an accident while filming, we got hit by a truck while we were driving on the eastern highway… We got out of there saying, “Oh, we’re still alive”. ”

Leigh Conkie climbing Mount Fuji in Japan.Credit:Ryan gaskett

Conkie is in the process of forming ideas for new work, such as on refugee themes. “I could plant them in the city, as a form of protest against the way these people are being treated,” says Conkie.

The film also followed Conkie as he sued a teacher he accused of assaulting him as a child. The teacher was acquitted of abusing Conkie but found guilty of assaulting two other boys.

Conkie is glad he spoke in the movie. “People who feel like they can’t say anything or who are embarrassed – I hope that helps a lot of people like that,” he said.

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