Originally from Detroit Phil Hammial migrated to Australia in 1972. He spent a total of 11 years travelling in 85 countries, has had 34 solo sculpture exhibitions and participated in 80 group exhibitions including two in Paris. Director of The Australian Collection of Outsider Art – 24 exhibitions in five countries.
Also a poet: 33 published collections; included in 31 poetry
anthologies (in 7 countries); 132 journals (in 17 countries); twice short-listed for the Kenneth Slessor Prize, once for the ACT Poetry Book Award; poet in-residence for 6 months at the Cité International des Arts, Paris: represented Australia at 15 major international poetry festivals. Editor of Island Press, 1970-2017, 60 published titles. Hammial is an active member
of the Blue Mountains Extinction Rebellion group and for 8 years was a volunteer firefighter with the Woodford Bushfire Brigade.
Why I make sculpture: I didn’t start making sculpture seriously until 1968 & then only because I had a serious accident. While trying to get down to a wrecked fishing boat on a small beach in Sausalito (California) just below the Golden Gate Bridge I fell from a thirty-five foot high cliff. The object was to remove the compass and other pieces of brass from the pilot house. But the cliff was unstable; I went down in a landslide & managed to break my leg into three pieces, dislocate an arm and rip my chest open. Lucky to be alive, I was rescued by the Coastguard who had been called by two painters working on the bridge. To make a long story short, I ended up in a body cast from chest to waist to right foot. As I was taking pain killers and was weak from the injuries I wasn’t able to write poetry (an obsessive and prolific writer) and consequently was feeling frustrated. What to do?
One day two friends loaded me into my big Plymouth four-door sedan and we drove out to a nearby tip. With me saying Yes or No to objects they pulled from the tip they filled the boot and, returning to my house in San Francisco, placed them on a large table in the cellar. Hobbling around on crutches, in two months I made forty pieces of sculpture. And have been making it ever since.