Crafty people who are hard to ignore

By Claire McCall

At a new monthly Auckland market, design lovers can meet the people who create the items they covet.

Artist Mariee Guinibert photographed with the flying ducks she sells at the monthly MoAD Design Markets. Photo / Babiche Martens
Artist Mariee Guinibert photographed with the flying ducks she sells at the monthly MoAD Design Markets. Photo / Babiche Martens

When Aucklanders hear the word "market" they usually conjure up images of artisan food producers or crafty finds, but here's a fresh-minted update on the theme. The Ministry of Art & Design (MoAD) Design Markets held once a month in the Britomart Precinct are a place where you can meet the graphic designers, ceramicists, print-makers, jewellers and object artists behind the pieces on sale.

Set up by Zekiah Heath and Aroha Lewin, a visit to the market is the latest must-do Saturday morning excursion. The bold, industrial backdrop of Tyler Street Garage provides a fitting venue for the undercover event.

You can grab a coffee or a bite to eat, watch the ferries sail by from the rooftop bar, and chat to the designers.

MoAD asks for submissions for the markets each month and takes the top 12, being careful to have a good variety of disciplines on show. "We encourage everyone to show their best wares, making sure that we have the cream of the crop."

Viva has talked to a number of the designers to give you a taste of what's on offer at MoAD Design Markets on June 27.

Kate Mcintyre and Mark Buntzen
There's something delicious about the offerings from this pair. Kate's handmade soy candles, housed in delicate porcelain containers, come in almost edible flavours of fresh lime and coconut or black raspberry and vanilla. Mark's wooden platters are dinner-table designs - pieces that hold an array of cheeses and nibbly bits and look great at the same time. Kate has a Bachelor of Design from Unitec, completed an internship with ceramicist Peter Collis and her pieces are very much art-focused. "I love using porcelain and the way the flame from the candle glows through its translucency," she says. Mark has a business background. His wooden platters are design-based, sketched out in CAD on the computer and cut by another programme. Sustainability is an important part of his thinking, so the platters are made from certified sustainable timbers where possible.

Ingrid van Heusden
When you buy a piece of Ingrid's jewellery, you not only acquire a work of art but a bit of her heart. That's because this Unitec graduate, who has a Bachelor of Design has translated her monitored heart rate on to a computer then had the resulting "blips" laser-cut into acrylic and cast in sterling silver. Ingrid, who works from a small home studio, has two sides to her business - art jewellery, and the fashion side which she plans to exhibit at the market. Most popular are her Howlite stone skulls set in sterling silver, a motif that is very much "du jour". But underlying this ability to create fashionable work is a serious side. "I am very environmentally aware so when it comes to my fashion jewellery I don't solder as that uses a lot of chemicals in the clean-up." Instead, Ingrid cold joins as much as possible, painstakingly hand-fixing her designs with rivets or jump rings.

While Molly Naps
Charlotte Marjoribanks cannot abide waste. As mother of an 18-month-old and an occasional primary school relief teacher she never wastes time, nor does she like seeing things go to waste. That's how she started transforming coffee bean sacks into cushion covers, totes, messenger bags and even tea cosies. "My husband roasts his own coffee for fun with a heat gun on the back doorstep," she explains. When Charlotte found him using the hessian sacks as mulch on the garden, she thought of a better plan. "I really liked the designs on the sacks." This self-taught artist with a diploma in contemporary photography now upcycles the sacks into funky, practical items, a part-time profession she usually gets stuck into while her daughter, Molly, naps. While the bags come from far off climes such as Brazil or Kenya, Charlotte doesn't need to go far to source them. She finds them at some "very obliging" cafes in her neighbourhood.

Dawn McCarthy
There's a yin and yang philosophy interwoven in the fabric of the quirky ceramics that Dawn McCarthy makes. She loves to juxtapose opposites in her imaginative white porcelain pieces. So though her vases, teapots and cups are ornate in design, featuring whimsical animals and flowers, they are balanced with a clean-lined modernist aesthetic. "I like to play on beauty, humour and nostalgia - they all come through," says Dawn, whose first job was at Morris & James pottery in Matakana. It was this hands-on role that inspired her to study for a Bachelor of Design at Unitec and take her passion for crafted objects further. Now she's at work on her Master's Degree and still enjoys the wonderful "touchability" of her art. White is her enduring delight as seen in her latest design, handle-less Art Deco-style mugs with a relief pattern done by hand. "I think colour can add confusion because it draws on personal tastes. White keeps it clean - it's like a black and white photo, there's something classic about it."

Mariee Guinibert
Watching Hilda Ogden in Coronation Street had a lasting effect on a young Mariee Guinibert. She simply couldn't understand why anyone would hang ceramic ducks on top of such crazily busy wallpaper. Many years later, this graduate of the Manukau School of Visual Arts is creating her own flying ducks. Hers are made of vintage wallpaper, glued to board, then hand-cut with a fret-saw. And she doesn't only sell them in the traditional set of three - they now come in "flocks" from the teeniest bird to the big grand-daddy.

There's something birdlike, too, in the wooden forms Mariee makes. They're akin to waddling penguins. "They are based on [New York-born architect and textile designer] Alexander Girard's dolls and are not turned but cut on a band-saw." They're made from recycled cedar doors that were once in a primary school and are painted in designs that echo grass, water and even picket fences. It's no surprise to discover that Mariee's dad is a woodturner and he's been instrumental in helping her refine the process of making faceted wooden vases, her latest creation. "They're geometric and practical."

Erupt prints
Helen McLaren and Craig Cairns have discovered an innovative way of making dull chores such as stacking the dishwasher or polishing the bathroom tiles exciting. And no, it's not dirty. The pair brainstorm ideas for their business, creating modern, cool, affordable digital artwork. The duo, who met at Unitec design school, are graphic designers and when they had their first daughter, Mila, they were appalled at the lack of cool artwork to put on her nursery walls. "It was all 'Disneyfied' or girlie fairies," says Helen. What began as an enterprise to design, make and market decorative prints for a newborn has expanded to include digital work for the entire home. One of the themes they've explored more fully is Kiwiana - but not in a cheesy way. It's a subject that is striking the right chord. Helen: "Our Koru height chart is our best seller. It's so vibrant and instantly recognisable as part of New Zealand's culture." Now their Whare Sweet Whare print has made it on to the set of Shortland Street, they've really hit the big time.

Doppel
Anyone who grew up here in the 70s and 80s will remember the cheerful red, white and blue The Longest Drink in Town logo with fondness. That friendly giraffe appeared on paper milkshake cups around the country. "It was a design that was synonymous with Kiwi summers, corner dairies, fish and chips and fun times at the beach," says Angela Vink. "It gives everyone tingles of nostalgia." Five years ago, Angela approached the owners of The Longest Drink logo with an idea to extend the brand. "Originally my husband wanted to make a ceramic version of the milkshake cup," she explains. When that proved unworkable, they came up with the idea of a high-quality plastic cup. Now the Souvenir Sets comprising four plastic cups inside a milk carton are a best seller. "They're great gifts for everyone - from kids, to teenagers, to adults," says Angela. Also at the market will be screen-printed Baby Tees and tea towels featuring the giraffe that is now surely famous for its staying power.

Cups & Saucery
When you've been a potter for 20 years, it's wonderful to still be making discoveries. Along with four fellow well-known potters who studied ceramics at Otago Polytechnic, Jo-Anne Raill has formed a collective with the aim of getting their work showcased, not solely in galleries or exhibitions, but to the public in different ways. "So when the idea of the market came up, it suited us well," she says. "It's been so good to talk to people and get an instant response."

All the pottery on sale at the market has both form and function - it's uplifting and a move away from the purely artful. Helen Perrett has crafted white jars that sport little houses as holders on the lids and Nadine Spalter explores her love of colour in sets of nesting bowls that settle into each other; Jo-Anne is bringing her human-friendly porcelain robots to a keen audience. The four composite parts (body, lid and two antennae) are hand-thrown and then decorated with liquid clay.

These quirky storage jars each have an individual personality but share a commonality in that they all "make people happy". Unusual as it may seem, Jo-Anne names each robot. At the last market day, Roger and Rosie went to a new home. "Even though I hadn't known him very long, I said a rather tearful goodbye to Roger," she laughs.

Village Thieves Vintage
Here's something 22-year-old Anita Chhiba probably doesn't want you to know. In her opinion, the op shops, markets and garage sales in Pukekohe are by far the best place to source anything vintage - from clothing to footwear to jewellery. If that's a bit of a trek and you're seeking something individual to create a look that is exclusively you, visit her at the MoAD market instead.

Anita is an AUT graduate with a Bachelor of Design which she's been putting to good use. She not only sells a selection of vintage clothing but makes her own jewellery too.

"I have so many ideas that just end up in physical form," she says.

Check out her skull-charm bracelets which are proving scarily popular, as are her Perspex diamond chokers and crystal rock rings - all handmade originals.

"I think it's exciting to buy something that no one else will have."

NZ Finch
Nobody tell John Key, please, but at times, something good comes out of being a poor student. Like most first-year Auckland University scholars Tanya Gordon was on a strict budget so was thrilled when her lecturer in Visual Arts told her "art could be made out of anything". That's when her mission to re-purpose "random bits of junk" from op shops began. "I'd use pieces of fabric, plastic rings, bolts, milk bottle tops, you name it," says Tanya.

Her creativity has grown into her full-time business. Now she largely creates bags, passport holders, wallets and iPad covers from leather off-cuts, sourced courtesy of her dad's hobby of fixing up vintage motorbikes. Equally popular are her cushion covers made from old woollen blankets and embroidered with motifs in felt. "I like nautical themes and tattoo imagery such as anchors, skulls and swallows." Her obsession with doilies is also evident - they appear on both the bags and the cushion covers.

Sensitive boyfriend dotcom
Okay, we're not quite sure what this guy plans to display on his stall (apart from pillow cases) but it would pay to get along to MoAD markets just to check out what the person who calls his website "sensitive boyfriend" looks like in the flesh. Drus Dryden is said SB and he writes poetry, jokes, songs and cheer-me-up letters on demand. He says of his esoteric business: "I'm 90 per cent nonsense and 20 per cent the best idea ever." You do the maths. He recently had an order for hair brushing; nothing else, just hair brushing. "I didn't know if she was serious or not (and vice versa, probably) so I just gave her half my chocolate croissant." How did the Sensitive Boyfriend concept come into being? Says Drus: "I once dated someone who was 'hard work' and thought, 'I should be getting paid for this'." Sounds like a familiar yarn.

Rob's Woodgrain Bikes
These bikes and trikes aren't modes of transport, fun toys or sporting machines, they're veritable works of art with a touch of nostalgia. Once you've seen what a woodgrain finish can do to your bike or trike, you'll pedal full speed ahead to get the new look. Aaron Pollock and his father Rob are the masterminds behind this business that's set to take the design world by storm. Bring them a bike and they'll work their magic on the frame and the forks. "If it's metal, we can woodgrain it," says Aaron. "Dad worked for years in the automotive industry applying faux woodgrain finish to dashboards and sills of vintage cars to repair them. I always thought it would be cool to apply the principle to bikes." So that's what they do. The ever-growing biking brigade, for one, is loving it and design aficionados are not far behind.

* The next MoAD Design Markets are on Saturday, June 30 from 10.30am to 2.30 pm at Tyler Street Garage, Britomart Precinct.

- NZ Herald

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