Project takes wing on wide span for floral art society conference

Judy Fulton hangs on to Albie the albatross, which she and husband Charlie created for the Floral Art Society of New Zealand's conference in Queenstown this weekend. Photo by Linda Robertson.It took 80 hours and some Kiwi ingenuity but Albie the albatross is ready to fledge.

The pride and joy of Waverley couple Judy and Charlie Fulton, Albie was created as one of two Southland-Otago exhibits in the Floral Art Society of New Zealand's Conference in Queenstown this weekend.

The brief was to create a large-scale exhibit using natural materials for the botanical-themed Green Space exhibition on the lawn of the Copthorne Lakefront Hotel.

Mrs Fulton, a floral art hobbyist, thought of corn husks and the idea of Albie was born.

About two-thirds the size of a real albatross, Albie's ''skeleton'' and shape was created by Mr Fulton from bamboo, wood and plastic foam.

''I thought I'd just be playing for a few hours. It [the project] just grew,'' Mr Fulton said.

Meanwhile, Mrs Fulton asked friends, family, workmates and some vegetable suppliers to give as many corn husks as they could to the cause.

''I had thousands to chose from.''

After cooking the husks in the microwave and ironing some, she applied them to Albie's body, creating a feathered effect.

She dyed those on the tips of his wings black.

His eye was created with an apricot stone - an idea inspired by eating an apricot, Mrs Fulton said.

As Albie will be outside, exposed to the elements for three days, he had been reinforced with an aluminium rod through his wings and silicone-coated to rainproof the husks.

''I'll be sorry to see him go. I've enjoyed it. It's been a labour of love.''

She hoped to find a home for him after the exhibition, possibly as a display for someone on the Otago Peninsula.

About 400 people from New Zealand and Australia are expected to attend the three-day conference.

Co-conveners Rhonda Hall and Rae Baxter said a busy programme of events included demonstrations by Rob Plattel, from the Netherlands, hands-on workshops and five exhibitions. Social events are also planned.

rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz

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