Morrinsville farmer Tony Gray's face splits in a cheeky grin as he says it was probably the "bit of Scottish" in him that started him off as a sculptor.
A finalist in the recent Fieldays No 8 Wire National Art Award with his entry Time and Motion in Space, Gray entered his first event "a lifetime ago" because he heard that doing so would get him a free three-day pass for the Fieldays - a VIP pass with preferential parking.
Gray has been sculpting one way or another ever since, much of his work using "found objects" as some events prescribe.
Wife Janet, however, has a different take on his art. "He's a hoarder. It's his way of getting rid of stuff."
The couple's garden illustrates the breadth of Gray's scope - a couple of concrete sofas face each other across his in-ground giant chessboard (64 concrete squares), while a carefully crafted penny farthing bicycle leans against the fence.
Nearby, a clock, created from motorbike cogs and chains, peeps out through prolific bush.
Gray loves the challenge of making clocks - hence his subject choice for the No 8 wire event. Standing 1.8 metres high, the wire sculpture features a clock complete with cleverly engineered moving minute and second hands.
Getting the ratios exactly right was enormously satisfying for Gray, who has always loved the challenge of maths.
Once the sculpture was finished, the next challenge was transporting it to ArtsPost in Hamilton.
Weighing just eight kilograms, the 1.8 metre-high sculpture was carefully secured on a trailer and the Grays set off for the city.
However, the ultra-light sculpture swayed and jiggled so much that they had to stop and buy more rope to tie it down even tighter.
The travelling wire clock certainly caused plenty of interest on the road with tailgaters edging in as near as possible for closer inspection.
On their arrival, Gray was relieved to find that, of the hundreds of spots where he had arc-welded the wire, only one tiny break had occurred in transit - and in a barely discernible spot.
Gray has explored several creative avenues over the years; he has entered the Fieldays AgArt competition, Wellington's World of Wearable Art (WoW) and Matamata Sculpture Symposium where, over two weeks, sculptors work on blocks of Hinuera stone.
He also entered a sculpture at the recent Fieldays and describes this as a 100 per cent accurate gumboot weather forecaster.
"You know," he said, sketching his timber, pokerwork and gumboot construction on scrap paper. "If the gumboot is wet, it's raining . . ."
Though he can draw technically, Gray would never describe himself as an artist.
"But I can make things," he said.
The No 8 Wire finalists' work will be on display at ArtsPost until July 7 and, when the exhibition closes, the Grays will find just the right spot in their home for Time and Motion in Space.
- Waikato Times
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