Driftwood Artist and Owner of Zen Wood Design

Brendan Rawlings

My name is Brendan Rawlings and Zen Wood Design started in my head a few years ago whilst living and working in Dubai. I ran a successful fitness company in this competitive, fast paced city but I often felt that there was a piece of me missing. When my family and I returned to Devon in the summer of 2017 it was hugely apparent what that was (apart from family). Nature. The same nature that every human being not only has the right to connect to but I believe if health (mental and physical) is to be maintained is a necessity. Nature feeds the soul and heals us to the core so working in it and with it has been an enlightening experience and I am now all the more grateful for making the decision to return to the green and pleasant land.


 Last year I made a driftwood shark for my brother in law and in doing so, finally realised what I wanted to be when I grew up ( I'm 37 ). 


Artist Statement

 I am a driftwood artist from Woodbury in Devon. I started my journey into art in January 2019 when I made a driftwood shark for my brother in law. After the image was uploaded to Facebook I quickly had 20+ commissions and so Zen Wood Design was born and I immediately started working full time and haven't looked back since. Devon, in my humble opinion, is the most beautiful place in the world. And with such rich resources either being washed up on our lovely coast or falling off our many trees, why use new materials? I ONLY used reclaimed wood or drift/fall wood in my artwork and woodwork and make a monthly donation to one of the UK's leading charities who plant new baby trees. Although I don't hug trees, it's my belief that sustainability should be at the heart of all business practice and protecting our beautiful county and planet is a responsibility we should all take more seriously. The power that drives my electric tools also all comes from sustainable energy sources.The thing I love most about driftwood though,apart from the look and feel is the mystery behind it. I often wonder where a specific piece of driftwood has come from. It was a tree once, where did it start off as a seed. Was it planted or did it float on the breeze? Which county, state, country, continent did it come to life? What did it grow up to be? A large tree that sheltered people from the elements or perhaps a house or an old galleon. Was it felled by the elements or by human hand? How did it end up in the sea? Did it travel miles from the rivers source or was it carried by man? What has it seen on its way? Family's? Right? Wrong? Birth? Death? Everything in between? Or is it just a twig that dropped into the River Exe a mile from from its resting place. As romantic as these notions are, I try to do each piece of wood justice. I try to restore an often withered and defeated lump of wood and turn it into something beautiful. Something it can be proud of being and perhaps restore it to something close to its former glory. And for me as a new artist, turning a discarded piece of wood into a beautiful object which encapsulates the spirit of nature is one of the most gratifying things in the world.