Topsham has become the temporary home of a jaw-dropping new sculpture dubbed the ’12ft Angel of the South’.

It is made from a huge piece of driftwood found on Exmouth beach by artist Brendan Rawlings, and was moved to St Margaret’s Church in Topsham yesterday for all to enjoy over the Christmas period.

It first had a photo shoot along on the edge of the river by The Lighter Inn, giving the appearance of the angel about to take flight across the water.

Brendan, the creator and artist of Zen Wood Design, is fast developing a far and wide reputation for creating stunning sculptures.

Topsham’s ’12ft Angel of the South’

In February, he took an imposing 6ft crouching male angel with wings to Exmouth beach for the day.

The artwork, entitled Your Guardian Angel, was created after Brendan was asked to replicate a wall piece angel into a 3D life-sized sculpture for an exhibition.

It was made using bits of driftwood from Devon and Cornwall.

Now he has doubled his efforts by creating an angel twice the size.

Brendan said: “I have erected the 12ft sculpture in Topsham to help footfall in the town over Christmas in the wake of Covid-19.

“I would like to thank the Love Topsham team for helping me to install it.”

The ’12ft Angel of the South’ at St Margaret’s Church in Topsham

Explaining why he enjoys creating angels, he said: “My interest in angels began when I saw a painting of an angel about 10 years ago and loved it. I painted a version of it and it just popped in my head one night that an angel would look amazing in driftwood.

“I started it off without a plan and it turned out really well. An angel symbolises so many things including strength, protection or losing a loved one.”

The response to the sculpture has already been huge and very positive on social media with comments including, ‘breathtakingly incredible’, ‘absolutely stunning’, ‘amazing’, and ‘beautiful’.

One woman said: “That is absolutely phenomenal Brendan. Every time you post photos of your latest sculpture I think you won’t be able to top that, yet you do. It’s fantastic.”

Last year, Brendan made his brother-in-law a shark made from driftwood – and soon found himself with 20 commissions for further designs.

Within just three weeks, he had enough interest to keep him busy full-time. He has been running Zen Wood Design from his workshop in Topsham, ever since.

The back of the ’12ft Angel of the South’

He recalled: “I ran a successful fitness company in a Dubai, a competitive, fast-paced city, but I often felt 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.

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“It was nature and 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.”

Devon artist Brendan Rawlings is bringing a life-sized angel to Exmouth beach

One of the most popular things he makes is a highland cow head. Last year he made 15.

The designs take anything from a day to a week for Brendan to create. He has even made a life-sized cow in the space of two days.

Brendan thinks he has so far helped fund the planting of 500 to 1,000 new trees. He said: “It’s my way of giving back.”





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