Carving - Bread Board, Edwin Ault, 1900-1950 Object Reg. No: ST 034256

Chip carved bread board with the inscription "Our Daily Bread" carved into the surface along with a design of wheat & vines. Made of native cherry (exocarpus cupressiformis) (santalaceae). The seal on back reads "13/carved bread board E. Ault". Made by Edwin Ault within the period 1900-1950.

Edwin Ault was raised in Dromana, Victoria and was a first generation immigrant from Staffordshire, UK. Edwin worked as a motor mechanic and also spent a period fixing jetties.
Edwin's love for wood work was shared by his family. His father, H.W Ault, possessed a strong interest in wood and plants, and Edwin's brother, Ernest Ault, was a builder, joiner and woodworker. Edwin was keen to share his passion for his craft and would often show family members and friends how to do woodwork. It has been suggested by family members that Edwin's wife made some of the woodwork objects in their home, including for instance, some bread boards.

In 1912, at age 32, Edwin met and married his wife (Emma Hermine Ault nee Wilhelm). They lived in Lakes Entrance (initially known as Cunningham), where they raised their children. Recurrent motifs in Edwin's work including, for instance, the greenhood orchid, reflect the indigenous and introduced flora which grew in the locality of his property in Lakes Entrance. Edwin's work, whilst highly decorative in its detailed representation of plants, was also designed to serve functional purposes. Egg cups, carving boards and book ends were used by his family on an every-day basis, and are still remembered fondly by Edwin's grandchildren.

Inscriptions on Edwin's work provide us with insight into the everyday life of the Ault family. The Ault's were a religious family, as reflected in one of Edwin's bread boards which quotes the Lord's Prayer. It is suspected that another inscription, on an egg cup (the initials: ?H.A'), was Edwin's dedication to one of his children, probably his oldest daughter Helen (donor of the items). Alternatively, it is possible these initials reference his son, Harvard (Ardy).

In his work, Edwin favoured a free form approach. He respected the original form of the wood and would shape it according to its natural pattern and form. It is believed that some of his pieces, including for instance, one of his picture frames, is made of drift wood. Edwin would air-dry his wood, or sometimes season it by placing it in crayfish pots, and steeping it in river and sea water. It is significant that Edwin's work utilises functional elements such as bolts and screws, reflecting his background in engineering. Edwin's work, with its intricate depictions of indigenous Australian and introduced plants, and its highly functional elements drawn from engineering practice, can provide valuable insight into the Australian arts and crafts movement and the lifestyle of Victorian families of the time.
Finished using polish.
Acquisition Information:
Donation from Ms Helen Hallett, 1980
Discipline: Technology
Dimensions: 20 mm (Height), 330 mm (Width), 330 mm (Length)

More information

Tagged with: australian timbers, carving, sandalwood family santalaceae, woodworking
Themes this item is part of: Sustainable Futures Collection
Primary Classification: ECONOMIC BOTANY
Secondary Classification: Timber Products
Tertiary Classification: (to be classified)
Inscriptions: The seal on back reads "13/carved bread board E. Ault".
Maker: Edwin Ault, Victoria, Australia, 1900-1950


Margaret Coltheart Posted on 06 Oct 2014 4:24 PM
I am Edwin's grand daughter, and I remember my mother (Emma Ault) Edwin's daughter, commenting that she was given a chip carved bread board to her by her mother (Emma Hermine Ault) who had made it. This was used at my home on the meal table for many years. The underside was used to slice bread. My grandmother was probably taught chip carving by her husband, Edwin.

My dad put a hanging hook onto the back so that it could be hung up on the wall.

Edwin's walking stick - I have very clear memories from my childhood of 'Gar Gar' using the walking stick, every day, with his pipe in his mouth and his cap on his head. He needed a walking stick because he had an ulcer on his leg.

As far as memory serves me, each daughter was given various wooden pieces as special gifts - book ends, vases, picture plaques.

Many thanks,

PS: Can you please ask Michelle to fix the '?' which should be ''', which seem to be in each Ault record. Many thanks! Liza :)

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