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Creating art from nuisance tree

People often stop and take photos when they pass Brian Wright’s home.

The neighbours’ kids press their faces against the windows to watch him in action.

Brian is an artist and his front lawn on Steele Road is his open-air studio.

He uses a chainsaw to create large-scale artwork from wood.

His latest work was created from the remains of a privet tree in his front yard.

Instead of triggering allergies, the tree is now delighting appreciators from all walks of life.

Brian carved the tree into three native birds — a ruru, a huia (extinct) and a tui with kowhai flowers.

Nature is his inspiration.

Brian grew up in and around Matawai and Motu and loves to hunt and fish,

He never chops down trees (unless it’s privet) but upcycles old stumps and wood he finds on his adventures.

Last October, he made the “scary-as-hell” decision to ditch his day job and be an artist “100 percent”.

Like any job it has its good and bad days, he says.

“You go through every emotion. You’re either loving it or hating it. It’s a creative journey.

“I love working with wood. It’s a good medium.”

Brian also designs with No.8 wire — a nod to his 25-year fencing career.

He has lots of offcuts being turned into large sculptures likes jugs, or whales.

Brian is not so good at the promotion side of things, so his daughter Olivia Scott has stepped up to do that for him.

“Dad has this talent to share,” says Olivia, who is to moderate an Instagram and Facebook page for her dad.

They also want to bring an open day or workshop to the region and inspire other people into the craft.

“I want to share what I know,” says Brian.

Brian is self-taught but credits others for influencing his work.

After years of pencil art and sketching, Brian started carving in 2008. His first piece was from a beef bone.

Today, he makes commission pieces of intricately-carved furniture and statues, which he finishes off with a V-shaped chisel and mallet.

Brian has attended art symposiums around the country and has found himself chainsaw-carving alongside 14 like-minded artists.

”We can all make something beautiful but we just can’t market it.

“If you have someone to help you get it out there that’s great.”

Privet Tree Art: Turning something that’s a nuisance into something beautiful is Tairawhiti artist Brian Wright, beside daughter Olivia Scott who wants to start getting her dad’s talent “out there”. Pictures by Liam Clayton
Haast Eagle: Another privet tree artist Brian Wright has turned into a piece of art. This is a carving of the extinct Haast eagle.