Award-winning New Zealand sculptor and Design Junkies TV series contestant James Wright recognised that a Hawke's Bay artist "had something different from anyone else."

He advised Glen Colechin "to push himself".

"So that's what I did," Colechin said.

"I put myself out there and finally decided to take the plunge and make art my full-time career."

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It's been a long journey for the Taradale artist who emigrated here from Yorkshire in Northland England in 2009.

The engineer begun his artistic work in ceramics. "That turned into woodwork but I didn't think I'd be able to make enough money to do that full-time so I started using metal.

"It was a scary step as I asked myself if I was ready to make the jump into metal sculptures."

Stunning Stag sculpture sells within minutes of going on display. Photo / Supplied
Stunning Stag sculpture sells within minutes of going on display. Photo / Supplied

Colechin made a full size stag sculpture for Hawke's Bay's Wildflower Sculpture Exhibition. It sold straight away. He made another — same result. Someone else wanted one.

"I was over the moon and really busy as I was working full-time. I decided it was time to take the plunge and go part-time.

"Unfortunately it wasn't going to work with the job I had so I had to choose. I ended up leaving and found a part-time job designing kitchens. I started in January and then lockdown happened and I was made redundant. I knew it was going to be hard to find another job but I did find something. In the meantime I joined the Facebook page NZ Made and posted pictures of my work.

"It just went crazy. I had 4500 likes and 700 followers in a week. The most popular sculpture was the triathlon swimmer, cyclist and runner. I got a few orders from within New Zealand but I also got orders from America, Dubai, Ireland, New York, Texas, France and Germany.

"When I had four pages of orders I said to my wife 'what shall I do?' We agreed I should stop working — but I actually haven't stopped working, in fact it's been non-stop. I have three exhibitions coming up."

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Colechin says the decision wasn't made lightly and he was constantly chatting to other artists to see where he needed to be. "Freeman White was great and helped me make some decisions around pricing."

Colechin's advice to emerging artists is to check out what's out there. "You obviously don't want to copy other artists. Work toward your customers, adapt and be realistic. Try something, if it doesn't work, change it and look outside of New Zealand. Put yourself out there. People will reach out to you."

Upcoming exhibitions
Kings College Art exhibition
October 30 to November 01
Wildflower Sculpture Exhibition
November 10-15
Auckland Grammar School - Art House Tour
Saturday November 21