Tough kids inspire Wairarapa sculptor

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The Bad Kids sculptures from Featherston artist and poet Sam Duckor-Jones that will show as part of the seventh bienniel Shapeshifter exhibition in Lower Hutt. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
The Bad Kids sculptures from Featherston artist and poet Sam Duckor-Jones that will show as part of the seventh bienniel Shapeshifter exhibition in Lower Hutt. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

A pair of Wairarapa artists will spotlight bad kids and extinct birds as part of the coming seventh biennial Shapeshifter exhibition.

Sam Duckor-Jones, Featherston sculptor and poet, and Castlepoint Road artist Kirsty Gardiner are two of 42 artists who will show their work at the 2016 exhibition. The show is one of the highlights of the 2016 Kick up the Arts New Zealand Festival arts programme and it runs from Friday, February 26, to Sunday, March 20, at Riddiford Gardens in Lower Hutt.

Shapeshifter will feature more than 50 sculptures and will also run as a fundraising project, according to Shapeshifter publicist Rachel Healy.

Gardiner said she had been working a theme revolving about the extinct huia bird "for a few years now" and had created as her contribution to Shapeshifter an installation titled Dawn Chorus: Sound Wave Snap Shot.

The installation takes wing with a flock of 37 male and female huia sculptures that together "represent a split second of the dawn chorus, only of huia calling at different stages of their song".

"I am lucky enough to live rurally in the Wairarapa, and enjoy the native bush and regeneration of that and the birdlife it brings."

The installation is a repeated artistic statement from Gardiner that was first aired at the The Portage Awards 2013, she said.

Duckor-Jones said his work was ignited from memories of school peers and time spent as a child in a neighbourhood park, which had captured "two ceramic teenagers, tall, flat and wide, tough looking, but made of the same stuff as their grandmother's cups and saucers".

He said his work was "rough edged and gestural, which is how they act" and "brightly coloured with enamel spray paint, which is what they use".

"The sculpture is an illustration of the kids I went to school with, many of whom spent grey afternoons in this very park, frightening old ladies. They weren't my friends, but I loved them a bit, thought they were beautiful. They were the bad kids."

Duckor-Jones had also written a poem that accompanies the sculptures.

The 2014 event attracted about 10,000 visitors and raised $75,000 for charities in the region, including Te Omanga Hospice and the Dowse Foundation Free Bus campaign.

Ms Healy said other exhibiting artists include Trish Clarke, Jin Ling Zhang, Nick Duval-Smith, Juliet Novena Sorrel, Phil Newbury, Tanya Ashken, Campbell Maud and Greg Bloomfield, as well as a number of exciting emerging artists.

Shapeshifter artistic director Courtney Johnston, also The Dowse Art Museum director and a well-known arts commentator, selected exhibition works. Ms Johnston said Shapeshifter 2016 was a dynamic event for New Zealand sculpture and a major attraction for Lower Hutt.

Ms Healy urged art-lovers to pack a picnic for their visit to the Shapeshifter exhibition and said a competition will be run on the event's Facebook page offering a pool of picnic prizes.

The event "will be a great day for all ages", she said, with entry costing $10 with a catalogue (or $7 without) students aged 15 or older $5 and accompanied younger children free.

The exhibition is open daily from 11am to 7pm at the Riddiford Gardens opposite The Dowse Art Museum in Laings Road, Lower Hutt.

For more information go online to shapeshifter.org.nz or facebook.com/shapeshiftersculpture

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