WORDS Liam Donnelly PHOTOS Cassandra Kovacs

Beauty is an interpretable notion. What is deemed as beautiful can change so drastically, one person’s vision of what is beautiful could be an eyesore to the other, but to be able to see the potential for beauty is a different skill entirely.

Matt Akehurst has a bit of a knack for seeing beauty where it could otherwise be easily overlooked.

No, Matt does not make grandiose murals on crumbling walls, or use rubble to make imposing sculptures. He rather sees potential in the smallest of objects, even a fractured piece of old wood.

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Matt is often found in Pines Beach rustling around in his workshop making all sorts of aesthetic little treats. He is a creative type who has spent much of his life making one thing out of another, but it’s a recent, unusual combination that is proving a hit. Matt has mastered the art of fashioning pieces of jewellery out of old, broken parts of skateboards.

More known for kids doing ‘ollies’ and ‘kickflips’ on, Matt uses these four-wheeled wooden boards to create stunning unique and one-off pieces of jewellery under the name ‘Liberation Jewellery’.

With its humble beginnings, Matt credits his friend Wayne and a Facebook status, for getting the ball rolling.

“Wayne put a post on Facebook asking if anyone could use these little bits of skateboard, I thought, ‘I’ll give it a go’”

His friend, Wayne Walsh, is the founder of CW Works Ltd, a small wood-carving company, and reliably supplies Matt with bits of broken skateboards.

“Wayne gave me these little pieces and I just thought ‘oh yeah, I can make something out of this’”.

Matt is so good at what he does, he admits people struggle to believe him when he tells them what the jewellery is made out of.

“It’s hard for them to picture it. I carry a piece of skateboard with me, so I can explain to them how it’s done”

There is, however, a bigger message he is trying to send. Matt is also known as ‘the Rubbish Runner’.

Every morning Matt goes for a run, always along the same four kilometre running circuit and every morning he will pick up any rubbish he finds along the route. He emphasises that he “doesn’t go looking for it” and he post images of the rubbish on social media to show people just how much rubbish gets left on our beaches.

In fact, he keeps count with a staggering 24,721 pieces of rubbish collected at the time of writing.

Knowing this, it instantly became clear why Matt makes the jewellery that he does.

“I make the product from what I’m given, not from what I order.”

Matt enjoys using skateboards because it means recycling, reducing waste, and giving new life to old materials. From his usual wake-up routine to his work and his source of income, Matt uses every aspect of his life to help send a message about caring for the environment and reducing waste.

You can find Liberation Jewellery online or look out for Matt at the Arts Centre Mākete.