Doomed trees turn into art

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Jo­ce­lyn Rein

When Nora West was asked to get rid of three land­mark trees on her Pon­sonby prop­erty, she de­cided to get creative.

The gum trees that tow­ered over Nora’s prop­erty on the cor­ner of Wil­liamson Ave and Turakina St have been cut back and trans­formed into works of art.

Nora en­listed the skills of Pa­cific sculp­tor Tui Hob­son, who has just com­pleted carv­ings on the re­main­ing three trunks, the largest of which is three me­tres tall.

Ms West says she is “ab­so­lutely thrilled” with the re­sult.

“I loved th­ese trees for be­ing a land­mark be­fore and now they’re a land­mark again.”

A self-con­fessed show-off, Ms West says she en­joys see­ing peo­ple walk past and ap­pre­ci­ate the trees.

“I love the way peo­ple keep com­ing up and say­ing ‘wow’.”

When the gum trees started drop­ping large branches on a neigh­bour­ing prop­erty, Ms West agreed to ap­ply for re­source con­sent to have them cut down.

Ms West met Ms Hob­son through her work as art man­ager at Karanga­hape Rd’s Okai Oceanic Art Gallery.

Ms Hob­son says the project was fun be­cause it was the first time she had sculpted grow­ing trees.

She says she is glad they could cre­ate art out of the trees, rather than see­ing them wasted.

“We thought, why not try this, rather than see­ing them get­ting them chopped to pieces.”

Ms West and Ms Hob­son col­lab­o­rated on one of the sculp­tures, named the three lizards, which rep­re­sent Ms West’s three grand­sons Toby, David and Jim.

Ms Hob­son, who took two weeks to com­plete the works, de­cided to re­tain most of the bark colour of the trunks for an “ur­ban” look.

Her own gar­den is cov­ered with sim­i­lar sculp­tures and she of­ten gets passersby ap­proach­ing her to do work for them.

One of New Zealand’s most well-es­tab­lished sculp­tors, Ms Hob­son says she is tak­ing some time to do small bits and pieces this year be­fore trav­el­ling to Tai­wan for a month-long res­i­dence at a mu­seum in Novem­ber.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Some­thing dif­fer­ent: Nora West, left, and artist Tui Hob­son ad­mire the gum tree carv­ings.

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