Humble caravan gets its own show

By Brooke Donovan

It's the ultimate family holiday and a Kiwi icon - and now the humble caravan is the subject of an exhibition.

The Kiwi Caravan exhibition at the Uxbridge Centre in Howick "explores the iconic Kiwi caravan", using a 47-year-old caravan as a live exhibit.

Artist Richard Boyd-Dunlop is painting the 1961 Wing Air caravan, christened Hunny Bunny, "like a multi-coloured honeypot" complete with buzzy bees to evoke memories of summers past.

The caravan was full of rot after sitting in a paddock for years, said Uxbridge manager Hal Martin.

He said it took three weeks to strip back and restore the interior.

"The caravan is an icon, it's part of people's lives, and we thought this was a creative way to get it into the exhibition, and have a sort of live exhibit," he said.

Exhibition manager Sarah Clacher said the inspiration for the exhibition came from tiny brooches designed by Lindsay Park, all depicting caravan scenes.

The exhibition features dozens of paintings and photographs, as well as sculpture, prints, jewellery and glass and one or two more unusual items.

Artist Gae Webster created Camping Out, a painting using acryclic paint, on a camp stretcher.

And 89-year-old Harold Merritt spent 700 hours and used 12,000 matchsticks to make a scale model of a caravan, complete with chairs, table, wine bottle and glasses inside.

Photographer Victoria Cranwell traversed the Coromandel Peninsula and found a camping population that was "really proud of their caravans".

"People can't afford the seaside properties as much any more, so caravans give them the opportunity to do that nomadic travelling that New Zealanders are so good at," Ms Cranwell said. "Society is so controlled now and caravans represent that freedom, but with a few of the comforts of home."

Frank Hassan, who sells caravans in Christchurch, said sales of caravans had increased 50 per cent in the past two years.

He said caravans were a cheaper alternative to a holiday home and still gave home comforts.

"These days they're insulated and double-glazed, they've got showers and toilets and queen-sized beds, the lot," he said. "They're quite luxurious."

He said many people were opting for caravans as more campsites were developed and "freedom camping" became more attractive.

"If you don't like the scenery you can turn it around or take it somewhere else."

The exhibition at Uxbridge runs until March 3.

Mr Boyd-Dunlop is painting the caravan Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10am and 4pm.

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