Geoff Hannah, of Lismore, and the cabinet that is the culmination of six years work and valued at $1 million.
Geoff Hannah, of Lismore, and the cabinet that is the culmination of six years work and valued at $1 million. Jacklyn Wagner

Cabinet maker's $1m art piece

FROM a sawmill in Casino to the Louvre in Paris, Lismore's most famous cabinet maker has carved out a creative life.

Geoff Hannah has just been awarded the title of Honorary Fellow from the Southern Cross University.

The first duty in his new role was to deliver the Occasional Speech to graduates at the university last week.

“I was a bloody wreck. I wasn't very academic at school,” said Mr Hannah, who left school at 14.

In his speech, Mr Hannah told graduates being an artist was hard work, involving long hours, no holidays and no sick days.

Despite the hard work, Mr Hannah said he was motivated by a love of what he did.

“I am always dying to get back to work,” he said.

Mr Hannah's cabinets are pieces of art. One was displayed at the Sydney Opera House during Australia's bicentenary.

Another cabinet, currently on display at the Lismore Regional Art Gallery, is made from 34 types of timber as well as ebony, gold, tortoise shell, abalone, mother-of-pearl, jasper, agate, tiger eye, malachite, lapis lazuli and ruby.

It took more than 5000 hours to make and is valued at $1 million.

In 1980 Mr Hannah was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to research fine furniture, which involved studying examples at the Louvre, in Paris.

With a father who worked at a sawmill in Casino, his love of wood work started young. He used to make things out of wood off-cuts brought home from the mill.

He began a cabinet making apprenticeship with Brown and Jolly in Lismore in 1963 and started his own business in 1973.

Mr Hannah has taught cabinet making at universities and arts associations throughout Australia and currently teaches in Lismore.



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