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  • Leaving Black Barn.
    An ad man's dream
    of a Tuscan landscape:
    the vineyard, the long lunch under the vines,
    all gracious of a kind:
    la dolce vita speaking in a strange accent
    lying upon a sleeping giant.

    The sleeping giant
    long time here
    stands silent.

    We travel down the road
    to Napier and turn off to Whakatu
    where the meatworks once knocked and slit and gutted and cut
    and shipped slaughtered cattle to mother England.

    Along this road David Trubridge wields a different kind of knife.

    The trees he's seen from above now grow on the glass wall.
    A building full of clouds, and wood and light,
    a stand of standard lamps,
    cocoons clustered, hanging together -
    a cathedral.

    David comes to talk to us:
    his voice his truth.

    "You've pinpointed the essence of my work.
    Find the essential building blocks - the seed shape -
    and from that grow."

    Here wood and metal sing in different form
    but with a clear and joyful-in-the-making note.

    There's the biomimetic quality
    to shipping seeds and shapes that grow,
    when tended by hand
    in a playful act of creation:
    a plywood Eden.

    But biomimetic is a burdensome word
    for someone who simply-keenly observes,
    drawing deeply with nature.

    Hand on heart he sees I am moved,
    having seen this truth.
    He tells me it's the core of his belief:
    that we find our turangawaewae,
    our place to stand,
    in our art or craft
    and everything grows rooted from that.

    One of the first new farmers on this land:
    harvesting the vision of his soul.

    He gathers kina lampshades,
    petals of pounamu and Takaka marble.
    He fishes with a net of light,
    braids a river on wooden shade.

    Even the plywood patterned offcuts become
    his cave-drawn Lascaux walls -
    the images of his soul
    imprinted on his retina,
    projected here into surrounding space.

    He finds his scalable song -
    the perfect harmony of the seeded form
    out of which all things spring.
    The workshop grew from here
    and is now the pod for his art to take shape.

    I'm zoomed in from this spark of thought
    to even smaller molecules of form:
    his puzzle pieces seedstacked in a box;
    then zoomed out to great oceans of tentacled pods,
    coloured and illuminated
    like some deep-sea world
    or a galaxy of suspended stars.

    This threaded integrity born from a man
    apprised of and holding his truth;
    leaning keenly into the blade,
    listening to the sound it makes, sharp in the wind.
    Every process overseen by a loving yet focused eye,
    the desire to hone better and simpler:
    shaping the pieces of a singular complexity
    in ways that we too can see
    and put in place.

    And here is my dream: to protect the 'young trees' of New Zealand
    to help people find their turangawaewae,
    the pinpointed joy, their life's work:
    their purpose planted here in this place.

    And, at the end of the street,
    a place that served us when New Zealand
    was the factory farm of England.

    But here,
    a man who has cultivated his own soul,
    his work
    and its shape
    in the world.

    Was he a seed sailed here, to propagate a new species?
    or perhaps, among us,
    he is even more native to this soil.

    No Tuscan landscape combed in rows under jagged hills,
    but the sleeping giant in each of us
    waking to and working our own wood.
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