Driftwood sculpture – “Harping on about DNA”

“Harping on about DNA” is my driftwood sculpture entry on Hokitika beach for the annual Driftwood and Sand beach sculpture event, 23-27 January 2019

Collecting driftwood for the sculpture

This year there was no beach at high tide in the usual event location. So it was relocated to the north side of the tip head near the Tambo. Here there was an abundance of driftwood and a beach.

I spent time in the preceding week walking along the beach looking for inspiration and came up with several ideas. However, one piece of driftwood kept drawing me back. It was smooth, almost white and had a strong minimalist shape. It formed the framework for my sculpture.

Driftwood frame for the sculpture

A second interesting piece came to my attention – a cut off trunk and roots of a tree, half buried in the sand and an ideal base to support the first piece.

driftwood base

Beginning to build the sculpture

Of course, initially I intended incorporating harakeke into it. Then I saw pieces of ponga washed up on the beach which were black with an interesting textured surface – an ideal contrast to the frame.

Collecting driftwood

Then came a storm

A storm passed through early on in the event and many works were damaged or completely destroyed. My work was on a local high point and survived well but the sand built up about 50cm at the base.

Storm and high tide almost washed it away

I cut the ponga into lengths and wedged them into the frame so didn’t use any fastenings or lashings.

Naming the sculpture

While working on the sculpture, many people stopped to talk. I really like this aspect of creating on the beach. Some people saw a harp while for others it was a DNA double helix – and so I called it “Harping on about DNA”.

Finished driftwood sculpture from different angles

Final resting place of the sculpture

I left it on the beach for over two weeks and then reinstalled it in my garden to replace last year’s sculpture’ “Coral“. Visitors we had on the St Andrew’s garden ramble (tour) and the OAT tour groups we have hosted over the summer have been able to enjoy it.

“Harping on DNA” installed in my garden

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