Former rugby pro’s new art business helps Tree Council make the UK a greener place to live

PUBLISHED: 17:20 27 February 2019 | UPDATED: 11:33 28 February 2019

Brendan Rawlings with one of his art piece made from driftwood. Picture: Brendan Rawlings

Brendan Rawlings with one of his art piece made from driftwood. Picture: Brendan Rawlings


A former professional rugby player-cum-artist is making a change to the ecological climate across the UK by donating a portion of his profits to The Tree Council.

Brendan Rawlings, who lives in Woodbury with his wife and two children, has set up a business which repurposes driftwood into art pieces.

The 37-year-old, who has played rugby for the Exeter Chiefs and headed up a fitness company in Dubai, moved back Devon so he could balance his work and home life.

After setting up his new venture - Zen Wood Design - just a month ago, Brendan, who lives in Culvery Close, has found himself inundated with commissions.

He will also be displaying his works at the River Exe Cafe in Exmouth and the Swan Inn in Lympstone this year.

“I have always been into woodwork,” said Brendan.

“I had made art for myself and my family. Me and my wife were shopping one day when we saw a shark in a shop window for a lot of money.

“I was asked to make it for my brother-in-law, and the business started from there.”

Because Brendan uses materials sourced for free - mainly from beaches - he decided to give back to The Tree Council.

After making a one-off payment, he has arranged a monthly debit with the charity, which focuses on getting more trees, of the right kind, in the right places and better care for all trees of all ages.

Brendan said: “I am happy for The Tree Council to do what it wants with the money.

“I know Devon is quite a hotspot for people coming out and planting new trees.”

Speaking of his business’s success, Brendan said: “I am massively surprised at how it’s taken off - I never expected it.

“I’m still working on ideas for new projects, but at the moment I am so busy with commissions.

“I would like to carry on that success. I am a local boy - I moved here when I was one-year-old and went to Exmouth School.

“I love it here and I would like to expand my footprint.

“Because of my travelling experience, I have sent works to South Africa, the United States, Greece, Malaysia and more countries. It’s just little old me working my garage in Woodbury, sending out art across the world.”

See for more information

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Exmouth Journal. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Comments have been disabled on this article.

Latest from the Exmouth Journal