The sound of cicadas inspired a Hawke's Bay artist's latest collection.
Kate MacKenzie, a surrealist painter and wearable arts designer, says the title of her collection, Mayday for Cicadas, is slightly ambiguous.
"One day I was sitting outside and heard the cicadas and it made me think I hadn't heard them for a while," MacKenzie said.
"The reason I hadn't heard them was because when I was outside I was either distracted by my phone or listening to music. I wasn't tuned into the outside world and I realised humans were becoming more and more distracted and not taking notice of what's going on in our environment.
"Cicadas relax and calm you. The sound brings back childhood memories of camping with my family all throughout the North Island."
MacKenzie has been painting since 1990 and says she has always loved it.
"My work has slowly evolved and matured over the years. I like to experiment and challenge myself."
She has had fantastic results both with her painting and design.
Following selection in 2018, Mackenzie is once again a finalist in the prestigious New Zealand Adam Portraiture Awards in 2020 with her portrait of Dame Suzie Moncrieff, creator of World of Wearable Arts.
She has also been selected for Hawke's Bay Review and EAST Art Awards, and was the Supreme Winner of the International World of Wearable Arts Competition in 2014, for her multi-cultural inspired garment "Poly Nation", made entirely of suitcases. She has been runner-up or third place in her section in subsequent years including a sustainability award.
She says she gets bored easily and often crosses over from paint to design.
"It's nice to make something with my hands for a change."
She has always treated her work as a job which is "pretty much fulltime" and believes that hard work pays off.
"I always try to have a plan but there are times when there is just no creativity in me. For inspiration I usually listen to music, sometimes it's loud and high energy, others it's slow and quiet, or go walking at Te Mata Peak.
"I can't really pin inspiration to any one thing."
During lockdown she finished a portrait of Jacinda Ardern and sold prints with proceeds going to the I Am Hope NZ charity.
The original was purchased by a prominent NZ family who saw it on social media.
Because Mayday for Cicadas was started in January, Mackenzie says, some of them have a Covid theme. "However the last three are a stark contrast and focus on 'The Human Glitch'. I'm really keen to explore this further. "
To relax she likes to catch up with friends and family. "I have become a grandmother for the first time this year. Before baby Maddy was born I sketched out an underpainting of a face and after she was born I stayed within the lines and lo and behold, it looks just like Maddy."
MacKenzie has a strong interest in the environment and other political issues that have impacted life for New Zealanders. Both her portraits and her landscapes have elements of a montage, bringing together emblems of her thoughts and concerns for the world.
Her work often illustrates the journey towards environmental awareness with subtle reference to changing technology.
She is exited that her Wow garment will be included in Axminstress — an exhibition at Te Papa toward the end of the year.
■ Mayday for Cicadas will be exhibited at Muse Gallery in Havelock North from Sunday for the month of October with all paintings for sale.