Artist takes plunge with guitar

Dave Funnell playing one of his creations the
Dave Funnell playing one of his creations the "Yulekele" - created for his upcoming exhibition "Who said you have to buy a guitar" Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner Adam Hourigan

OLD biscuit tins, car hub caps and bicycle wheels are among some of the 'bits and pieces' Clarence Valley artisan Dave Funnell has used to create his unique musical sculptures.

His first piece, a ukulele made from a hub cap with a piece of bamboo flooring for a fret board, was created to settle a challenge.

"Basically I went to a New Year's Eve party and decided electric guitars were basically 4x2s with stuff bolted on to them," he said.

"I promised by the end of the night I'd come back to the party and bring back some handmade instruments to play - and I did."

Despite confessing he has no musical ability, in the past 12 months Mr Funnell has created many more musical instruments, including two electric guitars, a base guitar and several acoustic guitars

"I've just finished a dulcimer, which is like a hill-billy instrument, and I have also made an electric mandolin," he said.

He sourced many of the materials from items already on hand in his home studio workshop and thrift shops.

"Being naturally cheap, I spent as little as I could," he said.

All of his instruments are playable and hold a tune.

"I've had many people, even serious musicians, try them and like them but they're not delicate instruments; they're very chunky and heavy," Mr Funnell said.

Mr Funnell's musical sculptures will be on display at the Grafton Regional Gallery from March 26 to May 11 as part of Clarence Valley Council's PLUNGE initiative.

The initiative, launched in 2013 and returning this year, is a showcase of local arts, culture and creativity.

Events will include film festivals, drama workshops and music concerts.

The council has also teamed with Arts Northern Rivers to deliver the Clarence Valley's first ever Pop-Up Shop.

It will host a program of skills workshops for artists and industry forums for businesses.

Plunge program

HIGHLIGHTS of the 2014 Clarence Valley PLUNGE program include:

Five days of film with the Sydney Travelling Film Festival. Grafton's Saraton Theatre, March 27-30, and Yamba Cinema March 28-31;

Clarence Pop-Up Shop, presented by Arts Northern Rivers and Clarence Valley Council. April 15-20 in Maclean;

Lower Clarence Scottish Association presents the 110th annual Highland Gathering, April 18 and 19 in Maclean;

60th Annual Grafton Eisteddfod Dance Section, South Grafton High School, April 11-17;

Dave Funnell: Who Said You Have to Buy a Guitar? Exhibition Grafton Regional Gallery, March 26 to May 11;

Clarence Valley in Focus Exhibition. Finalists of this year's photography competition, March 26 to May 11 in Grafton Regional Gallery and March 26 to April 25 in Treelands Drive Community Centre, Yamba;

Face to Face: Children's Intergenerational Portrait Workshops for kids 6 to 11 years. Held in Grafton and Maclean, April 14-24;

Plunge into Memoir: Writing your life story. Clarence Valley libraries, March 26 to April 4;

Upson Downs Master Artisans Exhibition: Westmoreland House, Winegrove, March 28-30;

This is Art Market, The Barn Grafton Showground, March 30;

Island Collective: tonight I am swimming to the island. Contemporary artists in the Clarence Valley were invited to respond to the theme, 'tonight I am swimming to the island.' 16 Uki St, Yamba, March 28 to April 11.

For everything you need to know about PLUNGE 2014, go to or connect with council's Culture Facebook page at

Topics:  clarence valley musical instruments recycling

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