Artist adds a personal touch to woodwork

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Nepia Simeon shows some of his artworks during his exhibition Personalised at the South Alive Community ArtSpace Gallery.

PERSONALISED, an eclectic mix of woodworking art forms which have been personalised, is on display at the South Alive Community ArtSpace at the rear of the South City Mall.

The exhibition has been created by Nepia Simeon, who said he had been into his art and design off and on all his life.

A humble man, Simeon said two of his friends encouraged him to exhibit some of his work.

Simeon said he started woodworking when he was young.

“My dad put a hammer in my hand, gave me a few nails and some wood and said, ‘make something’.

“As I was born with dyslexia and couldn’t read or write, I used my hands and worked with wood,” he said.

By 13, having also learned woodturning, he was making one-stemmed coffee tables and cocktail tables.

His woodworking took a break while he brought up his family, but “now they have grown and spread their wings”, Simeon has returned to his passion of woodworking, in particular personalising his work.

He credits tutor Dave Russell, from the Southland Polytechnic, where he studied for six months, for “putting me on my journey” to where he is now.

“I thought he was a leatherwork genius.”

Simeon works full-time with a mixture of people and personalities, so finds therapy in his art and design in his spare time.

“My art helps me get my head space back.”

Personalising his artwork is part of his ethos, which he does in a variety of ways from including resin-infused objects into his art, fractal burning into the wood, or including photographs into his work.

From remembrance items for pets, including a resin heart which can contain a photo of the pet, some of its fur or even its name tag, along with hooks for its leash and collar, attached to an item of wood, to an infinity table which uses multi-coloured LED lights to create an optical illusion, Simeon continues to develop his talents.

But wood is his first love.

By using different grains, and at times fractal burning the wood to create different effects, or at other times incorporating photographs, each work develops into a unique piece of art.

“A lot of the work in the wood is in the sanding… it depends just how far you want to sand it back,” he said.

“I love to personalise things for people… that’s why I call myself Personalised Plus.”

Simeon’s exhibition is on until Saturday.

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