They say necessity is the mother of invention. But for Robert Towler, necessity has been the driver of a lifelong passion to craft custom furniture and world drums using both Australian native and exotic timbers.
“I have always made furniture. Growing up on a farm in the Upper Hunter you often needed things that you couldn’t afford so you made them. It was the same with furniture. I like beautiful quality furniture but couldn’t afford it, so I learnt to make it,” he said.
Robert’s interest in woodworking collided with the world music scene around ten years ago after he purchased a couple of timber instruments. Now his skills are sought out by a range of drummers, and his work has found its way into homes around the world.
“About ten years ago I bought a didgeridoo in the Northern Territory. A little while later I bought an African djembe. The idea of making something out of wood that was musical started to appeal to me. I think I made a Peruvian Cajon because it was a coffee table that could be used as a drum,” he said.
“Then I met Afro Moses, the Ghanaian musician who had moved to Newcastle. He started teaching me how to play African instruments, and I would repair and later build his instruments.
“I liked using my woodworking skill to help other people fix and improve instruments. Now many of the African musicians come to me to make their drums and other instruments, and instruments that I have made are now in Europe, Asia and back in Africa.”
Thanks Your Hunter Valley Magazine for another great interview!