One day, Scott Parker aspires to own a gallery. For now, a shipping container in a remote paddock in the backblocks of the Bay of Plenty will have to do.
With the locality comes a degree of solitude, but also company of a kind. Feeding tui trill from flax nearby and sheep circle the container, while chooks throw timidity to the winds and strut right on in.
A carver and fine jeweller, Parker specialises in jade, and his creations – sometimes incorporating gold, silver and diamonds – have made a mark in some hefty circles. Foreign ministers have been presented with them as gifts; Billy Idol has bought a number of pieces. In 2012, beverage company Frucor commissioned Parker to craft a large koru necklace for sprinter Usain Bolt: “I got a call on a Friday saying it was needed on the Tuesday. So, that was a full-time weekend.”
Parker, who describes his pieces as sculpture on a small scale, was the Jewellery Manufacturers Federation’s Apprentice of the Year in 2011, and last year took part in a cultural exchange, training under Chinese master carvers. The 26-year-old has pedigree on his side. A third-generation jeweller, he sat at his father’s bench as a preschooler, pulling clocks apart. By the age of 14, he had a holiday job fixing watches and tackling basic jewellery repairs.
Parker now mainly works on commission from his 20ft-long shipping container, which is lined with ply and sits on a friend’s lifestyle block. His tools of the trade include a high-speed dental handpiece for cutting, a welder, a vice, a gas torch, pliers, files and hammers.
Workplace hazards? “I’ve had as many as four chickens in here and I’ve had to chase sheep down the driveway,” he says. “But I love this background to my work and I’m not afraid of my own company. It puts you in a good space for sure.”
Parker’s jewellery will be on display at Tauranga’s Bay Of Plenty Garden & Art Festival, which marks its 10th anniversary this year (November 17-20, www.gardenandartfest.co.nz).