Air of secrecy surrounds Simon's Budleigh pebble gallery
PUBLISHED: 12:30 22 June 2016
He is back - Budleigh’s Banksy has returned for another summer of wowing visitors with his pebble art.
Simon Wood, of Armytage Road, has returned once more with his pop-up pebble gallery of stone creations.
Simon, aged 55, has a host of ‘fantastic surprises’ and challenging pebble creations up his sleeve for this year – but as usual he is remaining tight-lipped about what fans can expect to see.
He will only divulge he has been asked to create a tribute in honour of Budleigh’s ‘adopted son’ On the Buses star, Reg Varney, who retired to the town, to coincide with a Fairlynch Museum exhibition.
Last year, Simon’s designs raised more than £900 for the national Deaf Children’s Society, after he asked well-wishers enjoying his designs to donate through an online JustGiving page.
Simon has set up another page this year, benefiting the same charity.
Recently, pupils from St Peter’s Primary School joined the outdoor artist, helping him create a shield on the beach – complete with the school’s logo.
The image linked in with a school project.
“They were divided up into groups, collecting different coloured pebbles,” said Simon. “I went down a bit earlier and got the outline sorted out. Once they had the separate colours I could get them to put the stones where they needed to be. As well as finding the stones, they were doing some of the creating as well.”
Simon’s reputation as a beach artist has grown over the years. A gardener by trade, he began his pebble art in 2014 as therapy after breaking his hand.
His work sparked a hunt to identify the ‘mystery’ artist quietly creating huge designs from the coloured stones on Budleigh beach.
Each year he starts his alfresco exhibition with a pebble heart, as a public tribute for the loved ones in his life.
“A lot of people are pleased to see me back,” said Simon. “People have been asking me what I am doing this year, but I never tell. It’s always a bit of a guessing game.”
● To donate to Simon’s Just Giving page, search for Simon-Wood28