rush | 10 may 2017
We recently headed up to Whangarei to catch up with Brett Hulley to see what all the hammering in the forest was about.
words & photographs: anthony green
The work Brett does spans multiple disciplines. He practices architecture, landscape architecture, art, and hand crafts an array of things; such as a didgeridoos, guqins and even a hut in the trees. He is a ‘maker’ in the true sense of the word.
Brett has a unique view of the world. He is a ponderer of the rhythms and patterns that happen in life and is interested in bringing people closer to nature. To Brett, nature is not just plants and animals but the flowing change that’s going on in our universe, all of which create the most beautiful patterns and rhythms. “If you look a little closer, they’re obvious, and they’re so full of wonder. The beautiful concentric ripples made by startled shrimp when you walk past them, the mesmerising cyclical pattern of the moon and the tides, or the good feeling you get when you stand in a pristine ecosystem. They’re the sorts of things that I really enjoy. So yeah, I just hope to express them to others so that they can enjoy it too”. Through the multiple disciplines he practices, his goal is to expose this kind of beauty to people, making them appreciate it and care for the natural environment more.
Brett has lived most his life in what he explains as the pot plant way of living. “The pot plant has the privilege of being able to move from place to place, and experience all the goodness that comes with travel and change, but he can never set any decent roots”. Originally from South Africa, he relocated to Christchurch at a young age and then shifted to Wellington to study architecture. He has travelled the coastlines and lived out of his car for months at a time. About two years ago Brett and his partner Rose bought a piece of land in the bush out of Whangarei to plant their roots. He is now practising the life of a tree. “The tree can't move at all, but his roots can stretch wide and deep, enabling him to grow into a huge old soul that is a fully integral part of the environment around him”.
“The pot plant has the privilege of being able to move from place to place, and experience all the goodness that comes with travel and change, but he can never set any decent roots”
Brett and Rose are finishing off their first building, which is nestled at the edge of the property overlooking rolling farmland. Entering the property you wouldn't even notice that there is a building, only the sound of hammering gives it away. They constructed the dwelling independently with a little help during the build. The majority of the materials are recycled or forged from the forest. The trees that support the roof canopy were salvaged from a fallen Kanuka in the forest down the valley. It took months of toiling to pull them out and install them. Inside, each material or piece of furniture has a story, either a tale from their past life or their current. Their cosy home has a footprint of a mere eight square meters and once completed will have room for working, dining and cooking. There is a loft style bed above that has windows opening to magnificent forest view.
To Brett, surfing is a way to have a direct relationship with the rhythms of nature. “Nature creates ridiculously beautiful curving walls of water, and we get the opportunity to synchronise our movements with the wave. Drawing beautiful lines in harmony with the rhythm and flow of the wave”. He told us of a day when his movements were in tune with the environment, there was a gentle offshore breeze and 4ft of swell hitting the banks of his local. He grabbed his board, wetty, fly-rod and rowed down the estuary to his spot. “Scored the whole bay to myself - a grinding right hander, a heaving left sandbar and another more mellow left which turns as the tide drops. I surfed until it was getting dark and then I canoed home. It was a beautiful evening too, low sun on the mangroves and mirror calm water. I caught a nice pan-size kahawai with the fly-rod on the way back. Cooked the kahawai along with a kumara and an ear of corn on the fire, then headed off to bed. Sleep feels particularly good when you’ve had a day like that”. His ongoing intrinsic relationship with the ocean and surfing influences his art. The more he understands its cycles and rhythms, the clearer it becomes for him. The way Brett surf's is a true expression of all this.
“Nature creates ridiculously beautiful curving walls of water, and we get the opportunity to synchronise our movements with the wave. Drawing beautiful lines in harmony with the rhythm and flow of the wave”.
brett hulley: www.bhulley.com
anthony green: www.agreencreative.com
anthony green: @antgreenphoto
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