To discover Allan Gale you have to take an adventure to the secluded and wild bush valley of Waiotemarama in the Hokianga. His intricate prints explore and reflect the many wonders of nature found around him and showcase one of the oldest wood engraving and printing techniques in existence today.
What do you make?
Wood sculpture, wood engraved prints, bone carvings and wearable art.
How did you get into your craft?
By the desire to be a sculptor and collect and use materials from the natural environment.
Do you have formal training or qualifications?
I am self taught. I started woodcarving in 1971 when I moved to Waiotemarama, South Hokianga, where I still live. Initially I made wooden bowls and platters, then I diversified into bone carving, chairmaking, relief sculpture and in 1987 I started wood engraving on end grain Kauri blocks.
Your favourite materials, tools, processes?
I love using Kauri from old kauri heads (the tops of the tree) left behind from the milling days, pre 1950.
My favourite tools are a collection of old carving chisels, a set of engraving tools and hand held gravers and many prepared Kauri printing blocks.
And my favourite process? The mysterious process of mixing ink to achieve the right colour for my prints.
What inspires you?
The primal forces of the wild, the sculptural forms of the Northland coastlines lying on their planes of light and water. Remnant volcanic landforms, the flow of wind over the sky and skeletal structures in involutary motion.
Is there a philosophy behind your work?
To be part of my environment by expressing its beauty and power.
Describe your workspace:
My design space consists of too much paper and a list of ideas that frequently morph into something else. Good light.
My carving space has two work benches many shelves, a slight chaos of tools spread around, not easily found and a reasonable amount of wood chips that fly around. It’s a warm and frenetic space.
My print space is tidy with a minimum amount of dust with prints catapulted into multiple drawers. It’s a finicky place.
Four words that describe your mind: Quirky, humorous, mischievous and obsessive.
Your favourite feedback from a customer:
“Amazing amount of detail with a harmony of colour”
What are you currently listening to? Melody Gardot. My one and only thrill.
Recommend an album: Hawaiian Slide Guitar.
Your favourite childhood book: Robin Hood.
A favourite quote: “Perseverance furthers.”
Jacob Epstein, an American-born British sculptor who helped pioneer modern sculpture.
What was the last handmade item you bought? A hand painted shirt.
You can see more of Allan’s inspiring and beautiful work in his Felt shop. Allan has very generously offered one very lucky Felt blog reader the chance to win one of his stunning Tane Mahuta woodblock prints. Just leave a comment below, telling us what inspires you about Allan’s work and why, and you’ll be in the draw. The draw will be made on Friday 14 March and is open to New Zealand residents only.