ABs getting all the kelp they need

In what might be a global first, Oamaru artist Judith Lofley holds on to kelp rugby balls she...
In what might be a global first, Oamaru artist Judith Lofley holds on to kelp rugby balls she made in support of the rugby test between New Zealand and England. PHOTO: JULES CHIN
Oamaru artists and locals have come out in full support of the All Blacks, many Thames St shop fronts displaying black and white balloons and decorations, including the Waste Free Waitaki and Collective Us, part of Revitalise Our Places Oamaru pop-up shops, and artist Martin Horspool’s Buggy Robot shop in Harbour St.

Judith Lofley, originally from the Kāpiti Coast, runs The Kelpery, which uses beach-cast kelp to mould, shape, weave or knit objects, and wanted to join a collective of artists and organisations offering the men in black support and to champion kelp. 

"We heard there was a rugby game on and we’re supporting the All Blacks. That’s what we do.

"Also, kelp offers so many solutions to so many problems. It is part of the climate change solution, so it feels like I’m shining a light on kelp really."

This was was her first attempt at making rugby balls with the help of a YouTube video and some imagination.

She worked with a template of oval diamond shapes and then the stitching, the whole process taking about seven hours. 

"The leather ones have a lacing panel, but I’ve just done the laces through the kelp and kelp behaves very different from leather, so you can see the buckling and the twisting in it.

"They were quite tricky, but I think I know how to perfect it.

"I was also thinking for a bit of humour — if seals played ball. It’s just a fun idea.

"They’re fun, different sizes, they’re not in proportion and probably what might be referred to as a deflated rugby ball.

"So I hope that’s not an omen," she said with a laugh.

Ms Lofley has been "obsessively" creating artwork from a large collection of kelp she has found on the Waitaki coastline since December last year and has an impressive collection of objects.

The collection includes vessels, light hangings, bangles and baubles.

The kelp rugby balls and her other kelp  artworks will be on display at the Waste Free Waitaki pop-up shop at 179 Thames St.