Des Cotman enjoys a good yarn, a penchant that he has put to good use in the writing of a his latest book, Cam Wilson — art furniture.

And it was fitting that what had been intended as a "simple book launch" and afternoon tea at Mangonui morphed into something rather grander, 160 people turning out to celebrate the arrival of the book and to honour the achievements of talented Fern Flat artist, woodworker and sculptor Cam Wilson.

The book, illustrated by photographer Ray Wiblin, takes the form of a conversation.
And there was plenty to talk about.

"Cam's individualistic art pieces have found their way out into the community countrywide, and as far afield as Australia, Dubai, the United States and Europe, so the task was to collate information and photographic illustration of a huge body of work," Des said.


"I deemed an interview style, or a series of conversations, to be the best method of offering insight into Cam's output. He was happy to share raison d'etre and construction methods, and those who own his fine pieces were more than pleased to relate how they are a part of their lives.

"Jan, in Auckland, for example, has shifted house several times, but always arrives to view a prospective new place with a tape measure in hand. If the table doesn't fit she walks away."

For Cam, the money in the bank was the "great armada" of native timber slabs and limbs wrestled from the remnants of the early logging era in the Far North, resting in a capacious timber store until called into service.

"And what many people might view as a defect in the timber, he saw as a natural event in the timber's tree life, one to be taken advantage of," Des added.

"He pioneered the use of pools of clear polyester resin with embeddings, but when everyone else seemed to be employing this technique he turned to vividly bright epoxy resin colouration.

This was to become his trademark, evolving to artworks that used the table top as artboard.

"His furniture is robust, sometimes massive, but always offering a finely detailed corner somewhere. The pedestals and legs supporting table tops are unique sculptures in their own right, the highly-finished underside of many large pieces have you lying on your back and looking up."

Ray Wiblin had acknowledged that being a contortionist was part of his mandate.
Meanwhile one chapter covers Cam's largest art creation, the house he built high on a hillside at Fern Flat.

Just as he embellished tables and chairs with bright resin inlays, the house features colourful and artful plantings, sculptures growing into their own outdoor settings.
Included too is a photo gallery of his artworks, as vibrant and dynamic as his furniture pieces.

Cam Wilson — art furniture has been produced as a limited edition, with copies available from the author at