By John KEAST.

Sculptor Sam Genet is torn between hobbits and matters rural. During the week the Wellington-based artist works for film-maker Peter Jackson, creating sets for the film Lord of Rings, but when time allows he heads for Hinds in Mid-Canterbury. There, on the side of State Highway 1, he is creating a piece of rural magic on a gigantic piece of Mount Somers stone. His mission, as part of a Hinds millennium project, is to sculpt a family of four – mum and dad and two children – and blend in a dog, a horse, a cow, a pig, and a tractor and plough. The work, mounted on concrete, is taking shape, and Mr Genet – who calls himself a high school art drop-out – must have it finished by year’s end. So far, he has created the family, and is set to create a working dog – a collie for preference.

Mr Genet, originally from Christchurch, says working with the hard stone is a lot different from slicing up endless amounts of polystyrene for film work, but he enjoys the challenge. “You can’t be afraid of the stone – you just have to hit it and carry on,” he said.

The vast sculpture is seven metres long, three metres high, nearly a metre deep, and weighs more than 40 tonnes. Mr Genet said he only began stone-work after attending a symposium in Christchurch several years ago, and “one thing led to another”.

He works to the accompaniment of rock music. His island-hopping is the result of securing the Hinds contract before getting work on the Lord of the Rings set.

(c) The Christchurch Press, INL 1999. THE CHRISTCHURCH PRESS 28/10/1999 P4

Thanks to Daniel for the tip!