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Andamooka Tiger roars into opal town

Regional News

The 1.5 tonne sandstone cat, painstakingly sculpted by Cal the Stoner, joins the ranks of must-see big things on a tour of Australia.

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Cal the Stoner is a stonemason by trade and moved from Melbourne to the opal town of Andamooka in 2019 to have enough room to create his massive stone sculptures.

The latest of these sculptures is the 1.5 tonne Andamooka Tiger which took Cal more than three years to complete.

The sandstone sculpture is his most detailed project to date and boasts Andamooka honey matrix opal eyes, matrix opal pupils and Andamooka rainbow matrix opal claws, tail tip and teeth.

Cal didn’t expect the tiger to take as long as it did and claims his most intricate project before this one only took ten months.

“I was going into the unknown with the tiger, it is 3D and goes by no measurements,” said Cal, whose surname is Prohasky but is best known by his nickname.

“I only had my eye to align the stonework into the form of a properly proportioned tiger, but 8000 hours or three and a half years work would have dropped my jaw had I known back then.”

The tiger is made from a unique vein of pre-vegetation era Grampians dimension sandstone, featuring red and cream-gold colours.

Cal uses his own ‘intricarved’ technique to create his sculptures, with the lines, textural features and colour changes in the sculptures being found naturally within the stone.

“There was nothing easy about the Andamooka Tiger, each piece had to be hammered and chiseled out of a larger chunk, then hammered and chiseled into the shape required to fit,” Cal said.

“The colours had to align in the direction I wanted, and the stone shaped for the contours of the tiger’s shape, as they were all different.”

Cal Prohasky took a year to sculpt just the tiger’s head.

Cal said the head was the most intricate part of the tiger and took a year to finish.

Cal hadn’t planned for opal claws when he started, so getting 20 claws that matched from paw to paw was difficult.

“I could go on and on, but to cut it short, I can say of those three and a half years there weren’t many nights that I wasn’t building it in my sleep as well,” Cal said of the sculpture that unwittingly was completed in the Year of the Tiger.

The tiger unveiling in April resulted in Andamooka’s population doubling for the day and was backed by the entire town. The day was also supported by the Australian Government regional arts fund, Country Arts SA, Regional Arts Australia, Andamooka Observatory, Andamooka opal showroom and underground museum, Dukes Bottlehouse Motel, Andamooka Cellarbrations, and the Andamooka Opal Fields Tourism Association Inc..

“Over 300 people came throughout the day and night, with the progress photos online being the reason they came at all,” Cal said.

“The photos don’t do justice to what it is to see it in real life though.”

The Andamooka Tiger sits in Cal’s Andamooka studio, 600km north of Adelaide, which is open most days between 2-4pm with the entry fee being a cold beer.

Finding matching Andamooka rainbow matrix opal for the 20 claws proved a challenge.

Cal has plans for professional brochures to be made showing off the tiger, in an attempt for major galleries around the world to show the sculptured piece.

“The common enemy of any Australian artist is the cultural cringe where art is thought as better and more exotic if from overseas,” Cal said.

“I am not overly concerned though, my work and I get acknowledgment and even flattering compliments from stonemasons in other countries.”

Cal plans on visiting Greece in July to conduct research on sculpting and to learn from Greek sculptors for his upcoming project.

“The Goddess is next, and she will be my sixteenth intricarved stone sculpture,” Cal said.

“My measurements went a bit awry so instead of being 5’11 she will be an intimidating 6’7 in all of her nude beauty.”

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