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Columba College pupil Samantha Smith (16) and John McGlashan College pupil Tim Scott (17) have been named as the only South Island finalists for the Wallace Secondary School Art Awards.
Tim's creation was a mechanical praying mantis made of computer parts, metal shelf fittings and a scientific compass.
"The general theme is nature and machinery and that contrast.
"I guess I find it interesting when you look around nature and sort of see how what you see there also translates into man-made processes and items."
The most tedious part of the project was finding pieces at the right shapes and angles.
While he did not take metalwork as a subject, he was able to access the department's equipment and gradually collected the right pieces over the year.
The piece was submitted with a description about a nuclear catastrophe, where "creatures have been forced to evolve; both naturally and through human augmentation".
Samantha's photography piece explores the theme of abandonment and includes a picture she took of the Glamis Hospital in Mornington.
The building was gutted by a fire in November last year.
"The gates were open when I went," Samantha said.
"People around said it would be fine to go in."
Samantha got the idea after seeing videos on the internet of others exploring abandoned places.
"I thought that would be cool for a photography board."
Both pupils were shocked to realise they had made the finals, with Tim saying he was "in a state of denial".
Twenty-four other schools nationally were represented.
Winners will be named in Auckland on September 17.