Professional artist Nick Fedaeff has uncovered hidden depths in North Shore's Hillcrest and it's had the unlikely side effect of turning him into a basketball fan, as he tells Melanie Cooper.

We've been in the area for 10 years but only about a year in this house. When you first decide to live somewhere you can't really know much about the area - you can't understand a place just from looking - but after a while you come to know things by heart. Hillcrest has been like that for me, I know all its places now and I really like it.

My daughters have done most of their growing up here - one is studying environmental science at university now and the other is still at Westlake.

Hillcrest is interesting because this whole part was built about 10 years ago. All the land was bought by a Hong Kong trust and they built the houses for Chinese who were escaping Hong Kong after it became part of China, so there was a massive Chinese community, but because things didn't really become very disparate with the change, a lot of them moved back.

It's probably not the natural home for an artist - you might think of Whangarei Heads or Coromandel or Waiheke so you have peace and nature, but Hillcrest works for me and really in the end inspiration comes from the head.


I do a lot of walking around, I always go for a walk in the morning. I go to Marlborough Park because it's so close and there is a big group of people there every morning doing tai chi. It's not just Chinese either, it's everyone together. Sometimes there are 30 people, sometimes more. There are also people who do sword fighting in the park, so it's an interesting place.

I work from home so if the weather is nice I will often want to get out of the house for a while. That's another thing I like about Hillcrest you can walk to most things - we walk to the video shop, we get our fruit at Fruit World - we saw that being built 10 years ago and now it's massive, and there's an incredible bakery too near here, Diehl's Bakery. You see lots people coming to that shop from all over - German, Russian, Polish - because the bread is very good and the cakes, they're very traditional.

I go to Germany about once a year because of my art and I notice that the bread is very similar, authentic, coarse.

Also very near us is the North Shore Events Centre; my girls did rhythmic gymnastics there and, the Breakers play there. It's something I never would have expected but it's made me a big basketball fan. I didn't start out being a fan but being able to walk there and feel the buzz when there's a final there with the Breakers, it's pretty exciting.

Although I came from Russia I don't really feel I have too many ties there.

There has been so much change over time that even if I lived there it wouldn't be a case of "oh my family has lived in this house for all these years". I keep in touch with my culture with my involvement with a Russian choir and I really enjoy that.

Hillcrest is definitely home now. I find myself taking bags with me on my walks so I can pick up any rubbish I see along the way. I think that shows how much this area has come to feel like "my place", I have a sense of ownership and I want to see it looked after.

Nick's picks
Diehl's German Bakery, 5/65 Hillside Rd, 09 443 7992. People come from all over to go to this bakery but you have to catch it open - it's only open from Wednesday to Saturday and even then it's only till about 2pm on the weekdays and half a day on the Saturday.

Marlborough Park, Archers Rd. The tai chi group is there every morning - it has to be raining very hard before it's called off. I don't actually do the tai chi, I just like watching it on my morning walk.

North Shore Events Centre, Silverfield Place, 09 443 8199. The final games of the season with the Breakers are great to watch. There are good crowds and they're all excited. It is incredibly loud too so you have to be prepared for that.

* From 11am-2pm today at Auckland Museum, Studio Premiere and the Auckland Russian community will share Russian music, stories, film, opera and a tea ceremony in celebration of the Volga River in the last River Lives: Stories from the World's Greatest Rivers event.