The 2024 Australian Wood Design Exhibition (AWDE) will run from 8th March - 15th April 2024. Makers, artists, wood workers and creators are encouraged to commence production of between 1 and 3 items (sets count as 1 item) for entry now.
All entrants must submit an entry form by 11.55pm 31 January 2024, and pay the relevant entry fee. OEC Members receive a 50% discount on entry fees and a reduced commission is applied to their works when sold.
History of the Australian Wood Design Exhibition
The Australian Wood Design Exhibition (AWDE) has a long-standing history that dates back to its inception in 1993. Nestled in the heart of Orbost, renowned at that time for its timber industry and abundant hardwood resources, the AWDE has been instrumental in showcasing the exquisite craftsmanship and artistic excellence of Australian timber design.
The exhibition owes its origins to the formation of the Woodworkers of Orbost and District (WOOD) Inc, a passionate group of individuals with a deep love for working with wood. They recognised the need to bring together woodworkers and the hardwood industry to promote the exceptional quality of Australian timbers while ensuring the sustainability of our renewable resources. From the outset, the AWDE's philosophy has been to emphasise timbers that are not rare or endangered, highlighting the importance of responsible and ethical practices in woodworking.
In 1993, the inaugural AWDE took place in a community hall in Orbost, attracting participants from local, state, and national levels. The response was overwhelming, and the exhibition quickly established itself as a major attraction in the area. The success of the event inspired the Woodworkers of Orbost and District (WOOD) Inc to envision a permanent space that could showcase wood design year-round.
In 2003/2004, this vision became a reality with the construction of the Orbost Exhibition Centre (OEC) on the picturesque banks of the Snowy River. The OEC was spearheaded by WOOD Inc, with support from federal and state governments, the East Gippsland Shire Council, the Foundation for Regional and Rural Renewal (FRRR), the Sydney Myer Fund, and the generous contributions of the Orbost community. Donated East Gippsland timbers from local industries were used in the construction, along with countless hours of in-kind labour from dedicated committee members.
The Orbost Exhibition Centre was designed to serve as a hub for wood design enthusiasts and the local community. It not only hosts the Orbost Wood Design Exhibition but also acts as a versatile space, encompassing a public gallery, a performance venue, and a point of sale for local woodworkers, artists, and tourist trade items. The OEC stands as a testament to sustainable design practices, with its environmentally sound and site-specific architecture, a result of years of research and lobbying efforts by WOOD Inc and dedicated locals.
Since its establishment, the AWDE has attracted a diverse range of woodworkers, artists, and enthusiasts, drawing entries from near and far. Each year, one exceptional piece is selected to become part of the prestigious National Collection, joining the OEC' permanent collection of works on display year-round. This collection showcases the diversity of wood design, with a focus on the use of Australian hardwood timbers, and represents a first for Victoria.
Over the years, the AWDE has faced challenges, including the impact of bushfires, volunteer availability, and the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the resilience and dedication of the organisers have ensured the exhibition's continued success. In the face of adversity, the local community and shopkeepers rallied together, allowing the artwork to be displayed in shop windows during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the OEC couldn't be open to the public. This collaborative spirit showcases the strong bonds forged between the OEC and the wider Orbost community. Since 2020, due to the pandemic impacts and volunteer fatigue, the decision was made to run the AWDE bi-annually. Though a hard decision to make, it has ensured the AWDE continues to grow and change as needed.
The AWDE has garnered a reputation for its high calibre of craftsmanship and artistry, attracting visitors from all corners of the globe. Many return year after year, captivated by the beauty and innovation displayed in the exhibited works. The exhibition not only provides a platform for artists to showcase their talents but also fosters economic growth within the community. The influx of visitors benefits local businesses, while artists gain exposure and often secure commissions for their outstanding creations.
In recognition of its significance and impact, the Australian Wood Design Exhibition was awarded Event of the Year on Australia Day 1999, solidifying its status as a premier event in the region.
We invite you to immerse yourself in the captivating world of timber artistry at the Australian Wood Design Exhibition. Experience the ingenuity, craftsmanship, and sustainable beauty of Australian wood design as it unfolds in this unique and inspiring exhibition. Join us in celebrating the talent and creativity of woodworkers and artists from near and far. Plan your visit to Orbost and be enchanted by the magic of timber by visiting our permanent collection or attending the next AWDE.