By Toni Williams
Driftwood sculptures are popping up around Mid Canterbury and Greg Powell can be credited with the creations.
Powell uses driftwood and the options for his creations are endless.
The Lowcliffe rural property where he lives with his family borders a beach with a good supply of driftwood.
It is a talent Powell only stumbled upon about four months ago.
He comes from Australia and has settled at Lowcliffe with his family.
His wife, Rachel, is a local.
They have been in Lowcliffe nearly a year.
Powell was a jeweller by trade in Australia, so has has a talent for taking raw product and shaping it into something beautiful.
Raised in Emerald, Australia, with gem fields just down the road, Powell took on an apprenticeship on the advice of his father and became a jeweller.
He has been a jeweller for more than 10 years.
In New Zealand he has set up his own business as a lawn-care contractor. At night, or in his spare time, he creates driftwood sculptures.
In the beginning Powell was looking for inspiration and a bit of a challenge. He had seen a similar pieced at a fair – an elephant just 30cm tall – and thought he would give it a try.
Wet weather in the lawn-care business often means downtime so during a wet period Powell went beachcombing.
He took the pieces home and put together his first creation – a deer.
Another deer followed, then a set of love birds, a heron and its partner in a nest with eggs, a dolphin, a giraffe, a rhinoceros, flowers and a candelabra.
Then there was a giant dinosaur, with a big heart, which has made its way to a local kindergarten and is proving a big hit with the children.
Powell’s favourite to date is a 2m-tall giraffe. However, he was working on a full-sized horse, which he said could easily become his favourite.
There had been some long hours put into its creation.
While the driftwood supply is nearby and takes a bit of effort to collect, the real work starts when Powell creates the shape of the piece.
Once the skeleton was formed, the rest fell into place, like Lego, he said.
It could take anything from a few hours to a couple of days. Powell said the wood often showed itself to him as part of the final piece it would become, just like the face of the giraffe. It was a whole piece and when he found it he saw a giraffe’s face in it, so created a body.
Powell said he was still fine-tuning his work, but what had started out as a hobby had grown on him.