Sunday, January 27, 2008

Who is Tom Ripon?

It always amazes me in this day and age when you go to Google someone you've heard about, someone who makes and sells things, and they have no dedicated Internet presence.

It is even more perplexing when you do so because you'd quite like to hand them over some money.

So at the Melbourne Zoo, in the past and maybe even now, they used to have these life-sized elephant sculptures made from fluoro wire mesh.

In Plenty Road, there was a pet shop that had giant fluoro mesh sculptures out the front too.

Then, in The Age, in a tiny home decor feature in a Sunday supplement, there was a fluoro wire mesh deer head, courtesy a la Douglas and Hope.

So I jumped on my bike and rode to Brunswick Street, and sure enough, the walls of Douglas and Hope were lined with fluoro wire trophy heads. I was in heaven. A vegetarian household! With ironic trophy heads all over the walls! Ha!

So the artist was Tom Ripon. I went home and Googled him, and he shares the name with a famous American ceramic artist, and all in all he had NO INTERNET PRESENCE WHATSOEVER. (Except a mention in a couple of online corporate newsletters and the like.)

It nagged at me. Who is Tom Ripon? Can I buy a trophy head from him directly? How do I track him down? Is he in the phone book? No.

Anyway, we ended up putting the trophy head on our wedding registry and getting it (an orange reindeer head, although for ages I referred to it as the wildebeest with no clear concept of what a wildebeest looks like - for the record, nothing like a reindeer).
But I want MORE. Even though I will soon be a poverty-struck Masters student. I want another head.

Then, the other day, my Northcote-based friend had some startling news - HE HAD TRACKED DOWN TOM RIPON! While on a bus, my friend had passed a house with multitudes of neon wire mesh sculptures out the front. I an going to ride there tomorrow and case it out!


Brian Ward said...

Wow! I'm obsessed with him too! See my post on his elephants at the Fitzroy nursery at

Can you contact me and give me the address?

sharon said...

OH YEY!!!!!

I have been trying to find him too. I am a teacher and want him to come and work with some kids at my school. Can you give me any info on how to contact him? He is a hard man to catch!

Caffeine Heartbeats said...

Hi Sharon, if you let me know how to contact you, I'll pass on what I know of his contact details. Cheers, Fiona

beci said...

i would really like his details too if possible. we drove past his house one day but didnt pay attention to what street it was... am dying for one of his sculptures!

Lizzie said...

So this is a crazy coincidence...

There is a shop near our house on Carlisle St in Balaclava called "The Cool Room" and they have these amazing fluro wire sculptures of animals, my favourite being a little donkey (although the man in the shop says it is a pony, its legs are too stubby and his tummy too round) and i love it but its $1500 ish which is totally out of my price range but anyway the other day Joe and i were there and asked him who made them and he said "Tom". Thats the only info he could give me. So i decided to google it. And it brought me to you! Crazy small world.
So now i can tell Joe i know more about him and maybe do a bit more internet stalking.

But yes, if you want more work by him then go to The Cool Room. They've got lots. They've also got kangaroos and koalas. I so want the donkey... Joe wants the tractor (or plane i can't remember)


pcfamily said...

I too am desperate to get my hands on my very own Tom Ripon sculpture. If you were able to provide me with contact details I would be very grateful.


Caffeine Heartbeats said...

Hi Liz at pcfamily, I'd love to help but I can't contact you because I can't access your Blogger profile due to privacy settings. How best to reach you? Cheers, Fiona

Caffeine Heartbeats said...

For the record, his phone number is here