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At 61 years of age, Timmy Van Davis can finally say that he likes himself, is comfortable in his own skin and is proud of where he’s at in life. It wasn’t always this way.

After growing up in the country and moving to Brighton in Melbourne, Timmy was drawn to the beach and surfing, something reflected in his wood carvings of surfboards.

Timmy got lost in drugs and by the age of 15 was using heroin. This marked nearly 45 years of drug and alcohol addiction, which almost destroyed everything in Timmy’s world.

During those years, Timmy had two children, worked as a printer and moved from job to job every few days.  In the early 1980s he’d make $2500 a week, but most of this was used to buy drugs, and he rarely ate.  Timmy also spent a decade of his life in prison.

Timmy looks back on this now and agonises that he wasted so much of his life, and that he could have been and done so much more. It’s taken Timmy his whole life to discover “the clearer the mind, the greater the find”. Getting off drugs has given him time to breathe, to play the guitar again, to fix old computers up (and give them away to kids), and to appreciate the little things in life, like having a coffee. He only wishes he’d realised this much earlier.

He attributes the turning point in his life to a deep connection with a case worker, Karen, and meeting his best mate, Trevor. Meeting Timmy today, it feels like he’s making up for lost time. Around six months ago, he and Trevor wanted to find a hobby. At first they tried their hands at engraving, but then started ‘mucking around’ with wood. Both have excelled at it.

Timmy finds working with wood very therapeutic and healing. It has even brought him closer to his family and has helped his daughter realise how artistic she is – she’s now having a go at it.

For Timmy, his wood pieces just evolve; he’s not always sure what something will turn into. He likes to keep it simple and he’s still experimenting. Although he started off using electronic tools, he now just uses a file, chisel, sandpaper and ‘lot of elbow grease’. He finds the real beauty of the work shines through in this way.

The great thing about wood, says Timmy, is that you can touch and feel it; and the energy in the tree and the wood. He likes pine as it’s easy to work with, he can change its colour and bring out the grain. He wants to experiment with other woods and is excited about a beautiful piece of driftwood he recently found. The last time we saw Timmy, he’d almost completed making an electric guitar.

We love his pieces and we hope you do too. The world’s your oyster Timmy!

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