Adam Edwards was born and raised in Launceston, Tasmania. He trained as a Navy Clearance Diver and five years later as an Architectural Draughtsman. It was while living in Sydney that he began to make furniture and learn antique restoration work. In 1995 he began violin-making, initially with considerable input and assistance from John Godschall Johnson.
After moving to Hobart in 1998, Adam met Douglas Finlay, who has mentored him for many years. Adam has studied Finlay’s approach to violin-making, which involves adjusting the frequencies of the violin, combined with a varnishing process that enhances these qualities. Adam also builds Norwegian Hardanger fiddles, which have five sympathetic strings running underneath the fingerboard that resonate when the top strings are played. It was this interest that led to his Fellowship. He says: ‘My time with Salve Håkedal in Norway included practical demonstrations in the making and adjustments of Hardangers, including the opportunity to study antique fiddles of significance that had come in for repairs. Salve proved to be very generous with his knowledge, and went to great lengths to ensure I understood the principles he was demonstrating.’ Adam then attended folk festivals to meet with musicians. He found the Norwegian folk community to be welcoming, friendly, and interested in his attempts to understand all aspects of the Hardanger fiddle. They were thrilled to see the Hardanger that he had built from Tasmanian timbers, and readily gave feedback on what they thought could be improved. Side trips included Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, the Czech Museum of Music in Prague and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. He studied the classical cousin of the Hardanger fiddle, the Viola d’Amore, and instruments by the great Italian masters Nicoli Amati, Antonio Stradivari and Guarneri del Gesu.
Since returning from his Fellowship he has been featured in the TasWeekend, received a ‘Premier’s commendation for Excellence’ at the Deloraine Craft Fair, completed a documentary for ABC Open, and has just returned from being the featured artist at the Melbourne woodworking show.
Adam changed his surname when he married his partner Alison Edwards, and now runs Tasmanian Violins where he hires, restores and crafts instruments. His interests include all aspects of cooking and growing organic food, with a passion for creating fermented foods – kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut – and baking sourdough bread.
He is a very hands-on dad to his two children and values family time and the experiences shared. Adam is also an amateur musician and has played viola in the Derwent Symphony Orchestra. He plays Irish folk tunes on the violin, and now has settled on playing traditional Norwegian folk tunes on the Hardanger fiddle.
Excerpt from “Bringing Knowledge Home” published by the Churchill Fellows Association of Tasmania (2016)
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