For years craftsman and master bone carver Des Baker has been creating intricate artworks whose final form emerges as if by magic from the hint of a shape in raw antler, wood or bone.
Born in Doncaster, northern England, in 1941, the 80-year-old, who emigrated with his late wife Cynthia to New Zealand in 1964, hasn’t lost any of his Yorkshire accent, not even when on one of his regular forays into character to illustrate an anecdote.
While skilful in a range of media, from painting to scrimshaw – when whale bone and teeth were legally available – he mostly now turns his hand to the utilitarian, fishing priests and walking sticks, favouring antler and bone.
But half a dozen sticks he lays out demonstrate his versatility in other materials: the head of a pheasant captured in a curve of merino horn, a hammerhead shark in bone atop a stick of shark vertebrae – cause for an enlivening departure from straight narrative.
Shark vertebrae, antler, bone, wood, bamboo and merino horn are all pressed into service for Baker’s utilitarian art.
“That walking stick were caught off Mayor Island. It took me four hours …….