Lismore man carves out unique reputation
By Matt Donovan
RENOWNED specialist cabinet-maker and teacher Geoff Hannah, of Lismore, has a renewed passion for his work after returning from a study tour of Europe.
The tour, which included Italy, France and Austria, looked at historical cabinets and bronze work. It was four years in the making and took six months to plan.
Mr Hannah travelled overseas with seven students from his cabinet-making class who were extremely grateful for the opportunity, given the lengthy queue waiting to be taught by him.
"He's one of the best teachers for this kind of thing in the world," said student Colin Fardon, 19, of Casino.
"I owe him a lot and I'm very grateful he took me on."
The master teacher, who spent three months overseas in the early 1980s on a coveted Churchill Fellowship, used his contacts to organise the tour, which involved the viewing of precious cabinets such as the Fourdinois in England and the Badminton cabinet in Liechtenstein.
"Some of the cabinets we saw%haven't been opened for 20 years," he said. "Even people who have worked there for years hadn't seen inside them before we got there."
Mr Hannah, who has furniture pieces in NSW Government House, believes you can never learn too much and has come back with some new ideas for future projects.
"Geoff is probably the best at marquetry in Australia, if not the world," another student said.
Mr Hannah shows no sign of slowing down, with his most current project due to be finished around May or June next year.
"It's about always challenging yourself," he said. It's an attitude that has made this modest man one of the most renowned furniture makers in the world.
One of his most famous pieces of furniture was a cabinet he sold to a private Belgian collector worth more than half-a-million dollars.
The work took him two years to complete, with more than 3500 hours of labour going into the cabinet, which was made from 57 varieties of Australian wood Mr Hannah collected over a period of 30 years.