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Wongi and the giant peach


 

Christchurch residents are often surprised and delighted when a new work of art appears on the walls of their city, which has become known as the ‘street art capital’ of New Zealand. Julia Strelou talks to one of the artists.

 

 

Wongi Wilson is the man behind the giant peach which popped up in the Wilson’s car park on Manchester Street earlier this year.
A wall of bright pink renders the piece unmissable, as a hand reaches tenderly for a single ripe peach, passers-by cannot help but take a second glance. “The mural plays on the idea of old and new, and how since the quakes Christchurch isn’t referred to as The Garden City as often. It has been referred to as the Street Art Capital of New Zealand,” explains Wilson.

One of the original artists who helped utilise the power of street art to uplift the city’s spirits after the February 2011 earthquakes, he was involved in some of the city’s most renowned pieces including the Rollicking Gelato Cone, and Giant Spray Cans. “The city was a blank canvas, the artists had creative freedom, and the result was an exciting, everchanging place that attracted artists and viewers alike.”

Although Christchurch’s street art has been noticed globally, the part urban art plays in the rebuild will decide whether this reputation will stand the test of time. “If we really want to be internationally renowned, wall owners should commission credible artists, limit the creative restraints, and trust they will create a great piece of art.”

The peach is a seasonal fruit, and Wilson explains that this represents the changes the city has undergone. A city destroyed gave artists the way to create an urban art gallery, but as the city regenerates this newfound identity is at risk of being lost, he believes. “As the city rebuilds, there is a concern we’ll lose the reputation. The key difference now is that the city isn’t a blank canvas and the developers rightfully want to control what is going onto the beautiful new buildings. Street art is about freedom of speech and if the artists are controlled too tightly, it loses the essence of what makes it exciting.”

Time will tell if the vibrant colours and carefully selected subject matter give Christchurch a long-lasting international street art reputation.

 


 

Using art to express yourself: Art Metro


 

Creating an accepting atmosphere where artists are free to explore, learn and express themselves is the aim of Art Metro’s owner Simon Walmisley, who pointed us in the direction of adult student Grant Philip to talk about his life and experiences.

 

Grant Philip

 

Grant began mouth painting in 2002 after being injured in a diving accident as a young man. A former Territorial Soldier, he has continued to develop as an artist and also uses his knowledge to work with the Defence Force on its “Art in Recovery” initiative for personnel, ex-personnel and their families.

You never stop learning as an artist and right now Grant is focussing on working with watercolors, after mainly using acrylics, in the past.

He’s loving his classes at Art Metro. “It has been great. I have been accepted for my ability and my art work, not my disability. You can paint at your own pace and the people here are very accommodating to everyone’s needs.”

By the way, you can possibly see some of Grant’s more commercial work next time one of your children goes nuts at McDonald’s. He designed the restaurants’ playgrounds for many years!

Art is for everyone at Art Metro. Call Simon to find out more 03 354 4438 or visit www.artmetro.co.nz.

 


 

Creating lasting memories: Art By J Steel


Certain locations and buildings always hold a special place in our hearts. Artist Jonathan Steel captures those places and memories, beautifully, to be treasured for years.

 

 

“We form a particular emotional attachment to the family home. But the places we love can be just about anywhere… the location where we were married or even a place where we had the best holiday.”

Jonathan will reproduce your special place in pen and ink with watercolours, from a supplied image or from an image he sources himself. The result is an incredibly personal piece of art that is a once-in-a-lifetime gift.

To discuss the creation of your meaningful painting call Jonathan 021 038 7706 and see his work by visiting www.artbyjsteel.com

 


 

A song to belong


A new exhibition at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū by a local artist gives a glimpse into what five New Zealand families with a wide range of cultural and ancestral connections feel about place and belonging in Aotearoa.

 

 

Artist Olivia Webb, whose own Christchurch-based family is part of the exhibit, worked with five families – who have ties to Kiribati, Zambia, Samoa, the Philippines, England and the Netherlands – to create their own songs about living in Aotearoa for her exhibition named Anthems of Belonging.

In life-sized video projections, each family is seen performing their anthem from their own lounge room, emphasising both the personal and political qualities of using one’s voice. While they are not professional singers, music is an important part of each family’s culture.

Gallery Lead Curator Felicity Milburn says the exhibition illustrates the diversity of contemporary New Zealand culture, and shows how varied cultural backgrounds and traditions can shape the experience of living and belonging here.

“The face of Aotearoa is constantly changing – for the benefit of us all, I think – and this exhibition is a perfect illustration of that.”

Olivia says the anthems reflect the personal values, concerns and aspirations of all involved.

“These songs have different vocal qualities, musical structures and lyrics, often including ideas that do not feature in New Zealand’s current national anthem ‘God Defend New Zealand’ – a musical setting of a poem written by Irish-born Thomas Bracken in the 1870s.”

Webb is currently working to develop two new anthems with Christchurch families, and these will be added to the exhibition as they are completed.

Anthems of Belonging is on at the Christchurch Art Gallery from March 13 until July 11, and contains several public programmes including a floor talk and multiple workshops. Find out more at www.christchurchartgallery.org.nz.

THE FAULALO BULL FAMILY, 2019

 


 

The joy of painting: Art Metro


An art school, gallery and supply store, Art Metro helps make Canterbury the creative place it is. Metropol sits down with Malene Reynolds Laugesen to ask a few questions about her teaching role at the Papanui studio.

 

 

WHEN DID YOU BEGIN TEACHING AT ART METRO, AND WHAT BRINGS YOU THE MOST JOB SATISFACTION?
“About two years ago. I mainly teach oil and acrylics and teach three adult evening classes and one children’s afternoon class. Seeing the boost people get when a painting they’ve been struggling with starts to fall into place gives me the most job satisfaction.”

CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE ATMOSPHERE OF THE ROOM WHEN EVERYONE’S BUSY AT THEIR EASELS?
“It’s very relaxed. People chat amongst each other, and long-time students are really good at encouraging new students, who are often trying painting for the first time.”

WHEN NOT TUTORING AT ART METRO, YOU’RE FULL-TIME STUDYING AT UC, AND HAVE STARTED THE THIRD YEAR OF YOUR FINE ARTS DEGREE – WHAT’S AHEAD IN FURTHERING YOUR PASSION FOR ART?
“I’ve become fascinated with art history and the idea of curatorial work. I’d like to find a way to continue pursuing these and to find a balance between teaching and my own art practice. I think the two things feed into and complement each other. Painting, for me, creates a deep sense of joy, which I try to bring into teaching. Teaching also compels you to look more closely at your own practice and technique, which is a good challenge.”


Hugo’s Hanmer holiday: Tait Gallery


Tait Gallery at Hanmer Springs has a beautiful selection of ceramics, pottery, glassware, wood turning and jewellery, as well as a large display of pictures by artists both emerging and established.

 

 

The portfolio includes landscapes by Tony Roche, Ross Lee, Debbie Lambert, Karen Werner, Charles Pickworth, Jane Riley and Jane Sinclair; water colours by Svetlana Orinko, Ivan Button and Devon Huston; acrylics by Michelle Green and Rob Barton; a wide range of prints and framed photos by Indigo Wise, David Shepherd, Ian Gardiner, Sarah Power and Bryan Isbister; mixed media by the award winning Jo Loughnan, and Jill Cowan; abstracts by Paul Smith, Rae Manson and Joe Wiseman; copper creations by David Kean, and Bulldog Hugo by Sue Lund.

Visit Hanmer Springs for your Christmas shopping and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of an alpine village that now boasts four galleries! No fast food centres or shopping malls here…
just lots of fresh air and sunshine, along with friendly faces to help and advise!
Gallery hours: 10am to 4pm most days over the Christmas holiday period.

34 Conical Hill Road, Hanmer Springs, phone
027 4325 914 or email taylor6@xtra.co.nz.


 

Love of landscapes


For Struan Macdonald, art is like second nature to him. And it’s the New Zealand nature such as Mount Aspiring Nation Park, the Otago High Country, Abel Tasman and the West Coast that inspires this landscape painter.

TEKAPO

 

“It can be the afternoon light on a mountain side or some kind of weather effect,” he says.

“With the bush there is incredible variation of colour, density and light which I love to capture.”

Photos and pencil drawings sourced on back country tramping trips are transported to canvas through paint and passion, resulting in a window to the wilderness.

To view his latest work or pieces in progress, like the large diptych of a snowy scene at the head of Lake Tekapo, visit Village Art gallery in Little River or online.


 

Bic’s musical homecoming


Bic Runga is one of Canterbury’s finest entertainment exports. This summer she is set to headline two noteworthy local performances, Nostalgia Festival and Ōtautahi Together, a free concert to mark 10 years since the February 2011 earthquake. Metropol catches up with the talented musician ahead of a bumper summer season.

PHOTOS KAREN INDERBITZEN-WALLER

You have two hometown performances coming up. What does it mean to you to perform in your hometown and, for the memorial, at such a meaningful occasion?
“I always love performing in Christchurch, it’s always a really cool audience and I love playing in my hometown. I’m really looking forward to Nostalgia, I’ve heard it’s really great, and being asked to perform at the memorial is a huge honour for me, I was really humbled to be asked.”

It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since the February 2011 earthquake. What does this milestone signify for you?
“Ten years is a really long time, I found it hard to believe it’s been that long. Speaking to the [Christchurch City] Council about it, they want the concert to feel healing and positive and those kinds of things, because it is such a milestone for the city.
“In many ways, it’s given Christchurch a chance to rebuild in a way that’s modern and interesting and really represents how Christchurch has changed.”

Your Christchurch performances are two of many for you including your own Spring Tour, Rhythm and Vines, and Summer Sounds. Is this a busier than normal summer season for you?
“I haven’t played this much in summer in many years. A lot of international bands can’t come into New Zealand, so it’s kind of a big moment for New Zealand music this summer. A lot of bands are getting shows and festival slots which might have gone to internationals in the past. It’s such a good opportunity for New Zealand bands.”

You hold a special place in Cantabrians’ hearts – many people feel they have watched you grow up since your first album release at just 20. What has been happening for you off the stage recently?
“Well, I am so middle aged now. My kids are five, seven and 13…and I am just looking forward to being a little old lady making music – which doesn’t feel like it will be too far off. Lockdown was a positive time for our family in lots of ways, it showed me what matters and what doesn’t; there was no sitting in traffic in Auckland trying to get my kids to school, but there was lots of time spent together and that’s what’s really important.”

See Bic Runga perform at Nostalgia Festival on Saturday February 13 and at the free Ōtautahi Together concert on Sunday, February 28. Purchase tickets for Nostalgia online.


 

Ending on a high note: Ali Cat Productions


Award-winning Canterbury performer Ali Harper is not letting a year of pandemic postponements stop her. She is determined to end the year on a high note by performing two shows in December.

 

Photography: Emma Brittenden
Ali is wearing Repertoire (The Colombo)

 

The first show, Christmas Joy will be held on December 5, followed by four performances of The Look of Love on December 17 to 19. Both shows will be performed at The Piano.

In previous years, her Christmas concerts have sold out – and she promises 2020 will be better than before as she shares the stage with special guest and much-loved violinist Fiona Pears, Connor Hartley-Hall on guitar and 70 glorious voices from the Cobham Intermediate School Chorale all led by Musical Director and pianist Andy Manning.

“I adore this time of year and this year’s Christmas is focusing on love and gratitude,” she says. “The fragility of life has shown up for all of us this year. By creating a little bit of magic and lightening hearts through the beauty of music is what I think we all need at this time.”

Then it’s third time lucky for The Look Of Love – a musical feast for the heart and soul via the full spectrum of Burt Bacharach’s hit songs with muysical arranger Tom Rainey.

“Before lockdown Tom and I were able to record and release The Look of Love album and debut the show at Nelson’s Theatre Royal,” says Ali.

“Then our Christchurch dates had to be postponed due to Covid-19, not once but twice – but the upside is the songs resonate even more now with all that everyone has been have been through this year.”

The Look Of Love, captures the intimate Manhattan cabaret club vibe to transport you back through the ages, the ‘50s to the ‘80s, celebrating a long line of Bacharach muses, from Marlene Dietrich to Dusty Springfield, Dionne Warwick to Aretha Franklin and Cilla Black.

“Burt’s melodies are utterly gorgeous, timeless and abundantly beautiful whether they are about heartache or hope. I can’t think of a better way to uplift us into Christmas,” she says.


 

Making Paradise


We’ve long searched for paradise, that idyllic place or state where everything is perfect and now, thanks to Kiwi singer songwriter Anderson Rocio, there are plenty more reasons to love paradise – a million to be precise.

That’s how many Spotify streams Rocio’s latest song Paradise has had since the song made its global debut in a pivotal scene in season five of the popular Netflix series Lucifer.

And while the numbers – which are still climbing – are impressive, what is perhaps even more so, is the fact that it was written and recorded in her bedroom in less than a day.

“It is so inspiring. I never really feel like these songs come from me, just more ‘through’ me from somewhere else. But to know that people around the world are connecting to the art that I produce is, I think, an artist’s dream. It’s been my dream for a very long time!”

The 26-year-old half Spanish, half American beauty was born in Italy, grew up in the UK and sailed the world on a 13.4 metre catamaran for three years with her family and a Yamaha p60 piano, before they settled in New Zealand when Rocio was 14. After graduating with a Bachelor in Music, Classic Piano Performance from Otago University, she bought a one-way ticket to LA to pursue her music dream in 2017.

It took 18 months, but she was eventually signed to a sync agency called THINK Music Inc in August 2018 on the back of her first EP, Darkerside, Rocio had released earlier that year.

Occasionally THINK would send her briefs for “an uplifting, sweet song” or “something with the word forever in it” and last September there was a brief for a “happy, sad song”.

“The turnover was quick,” she says. “I had a day to see what I could come up with!”

Trawling YouTube news with the sound muted, provided the inspiration and Rocio managed to capture the dichotomy of the chaos taking place in the world, with the beauty of humanity. “I wrote, sang, played and recorded Paradise and sent it through without thinking a lot more about it,” she says.

Like many things in life, it didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen… five months later, when the sync agency asked to approve the use of Paradise for the Netflix show Lucifer. Rocio said “Awesome!” and quickly forgot about it, again.

“You never know until close to when the show airs whether or not they’ll actually use it,” she laughs.

When she received the air date and confirmation of use – she was over the moon, but still unaware of how prominent the song would be in this show.

The night before the screening, a close videographer friend put together some iPhone footage of Rocio at home in Queenstown during lockdown as a music video, in case anyone went in search of the artist behind the song.

And on Friday August 21, they watched in anticipation the fifth episode of Lucifer season five, screening on Netflix in New Zealand. And, rather than simply background music, the song plays during a pivotal scene featuring the character Mazikeen, played by South African-born Kiwi actress Lesley-Ann Brandt. Her phone hasn’t stopped ringing and the notifications haven’t stopped pinging since.

“It’s been amazing to see. For me, it’s one more step closer to getting to where I have always wanted to be,” Rocio says.

“It’s been a gradual climb with my music and this is the biggest milestone yet. I still feel like I’m daydreaming, so it hasn’t really hit… even now. But I have become a lot busier! It also kinda feels like my birthday every time I wake up to see what new news has come through!”