Some time ago, Supplier Technology editor Philip Ashley had the pleasure of meeting Gotz-Peter Reichelt to talk about his Guinness World Record wooden ark.

Reichelt’s father was an atomic scientist but Gotz-Peter chose photography as a career. He is by nature a curious individual and enjoys the travel that comes with being a professional photographer. Some of his photographic work is artistic in nature and involves exposing colour slides to a bio-chemical process where the slides are progressively destroyed. During the process the deteriorating images are scanned to reveal intriguing new images he calls Kiwis.

In addition to photography, Gotz-Peter honed his wood carving skills; incredibly, he says, with the help of a DIY magazine. On his first visit to Bali on a photo assignment, he was involved in a motorcycle accident and found himself on crutches. Unable to finish his assignment, he decided to visit the famous woodcarvers around Ubud. It was here he claims to have had a “vision” on what to do with his life. His Balinese carving experience began with the creation of 20 wooden animals cut from Pulai wood with a jigsaw; carved and then sanded.

His continued absences in Bali virtually ended his photography career but he manages to live off his animal carvings. Gotz-Peter is concerned about the extinction of animal species and uses his work to bring attention to this crisis. One of his first creations was a series of 44 interlocking animals from the IUCN Red list of threatened species. His preferred wood is Pulai – a “holy tree” felled after a special ceremony and not easy to find except with the help of locals.

Gotz-Peter says: “Not all parts of an animal puzzle can be safely positioned in the direction of the grain and the most fragile parts of a carving have to be taken into consideration when designing the puzzle.” He said he noticed the offcuts of the wood from which he was cutting an elephant, lying next to his jigsaw and suddenly saw the best protection for each animal was the leftover piece of wood from which it came.

He now shows and sells his carvings at special exhibitions, charging between € 150 and € 800 per carving. His Guinness World-Record Ark is 1.5 metres in length and the biggest ever carved from a single piece of wood. It contains 142 animals from all continents, arranged in pairs and arranged as a puzzle inside the ark. The original is not for sale but a copy can be ordered and will take eight months to complete. The price will not be cheap.