These models come alive
Nigel Ogle works in his shed surrounded by soldiers, horses, trees and bits of human limbs.
Of course, Ogle is the only one breathing; the others are all models that will eventually play a vital role in telling a story.
The scale models are destined to become part of a display Ogle, who owns the Tawhiti Museum, will use in his vast collection built up over 30 years.
‘‘Around 1980 a guy I know in Wellington had done some New Zealand-based models and I thought it was a great way to tell a story so I took it up,’’ he said. ‘‘It started as a few as you do, and I’ve made I don’t know how many since.
‘‘I didn’t really enjoy it at first but as time’s gone on I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s an artistic challenge.’’
Ogle was an art teacher at Ha¯ wera High School for 15 years before deciding to leave teaching and concentrate his efforts on his projects full time.
‘‘In 1988 when I left teaching people wanted to know what I was going to do with myself. I told them I was going to open a museum,’’ he said. ‘‘They were like ‘oh yeah OK’’. You could just see the looks on their faces.’’
It’s a decision he hasn’t regretted.
‘‘There was never a big plan as such, it’s just snowballed, but I love it and wouldn’t want to do anything else.’’
Ogle said his passion came from his love of history and also his love of art.
‘‘I love telling a story.’’
Ogle said most of inspiration for his displays came from photos and often just presented themselves.
The museum has life-sized exhibits and scale models to capture the past in a series of realistic displays that can take between two and four years to make.
‘‘When you model detail you think nobody will notice so why bother about it, but people always comment about it which encourages me to do more,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s the art we hear about all the time.’’
Ogle is busy working on his next project, which he said is still about a year away. It will be a 1:15 scale diorama depicting a busy street scene from around 1905-1910 when the first car arrived in the Ha¯ wera township.
Last year Ogle opened the Painted War display at the museum that took around two years to put together. It tells the story of Edward Arthur Williams and features a reluctant army marching up the South Taranaki coast in 1865.
‘‘I’ve had the idea in my mind for a long time,’’ he said. ‘‘It took a while because of all the figures. A lot of painting was involved, but we’ve been getting a really good response.’’
The museum has won seven separate tourism awards and is an important visitor attraction and educational facility for South Taranaki.
‘‘We get a lot of ‘someone told us to come’, but people really love it.’’
Nigel Ogle from Tawhiti Museum in Hawera at work in his shed.
Nigel Ogle’s attention to detail is clearly seen in these meticulously made models.