Canvas asked six artists to create a work for our Taste of Kindness issue, that celebrates summer food and the art of giving back. Dione Joseph asked them what inspired this work.
Illustrator Daron Parton works as a full-time creative from his Matamata studio. His walls are adorned with paintings and 3D sculptures; knick-knacks he's picked up from his travels around Canada and Ireland; and the floor, he confesses, is a veritable rubbish heap with layers of paper from different projects over the past few months. But there's no denying that the father-of-two and avid dinosaur fan, loves his work.
His artwork for this issue brings together commonplace items found in the pantry. "I have ideas running around in my head all the time," he says. "On this occasion it was the notion of using familiar ingredients and changing the packaging."
The flour and butter are given new alter-ego labels of "love" and "empathy" and, while seemingly simple, along with the mixing bowl and spoon, they offer a thoughtful commentary on what we need as essential goods — especially in today's turbulent times.
While Parton doesn't believe that art can necessarily change the world, he does believe in its power of persuasion.
"If a work of art can get someone to say, 'I never would have thought of that' — then that's powerful, because just changing one person's opinion, well, sometimes that's enough."
The Hauraki Gulf holds a special place in Dan Tippett's heart and is the inspiration behind his artwork.
"I grew up in Grey Lynn, Ponsonby and on the Coromandel," he says. "So, the Hauraki Gulf has always been our food basket. I love it and I'm also concerned about it."
His artwork, Priceless, featuring a large fish passed from one hand to another, is symbolic of the abundance of kaimoana in the Gulf; and the need for us, its stewards, to continue nourishing the source that offers us sustenance.
"Kaitiakitanga is important, not just for me but for our generations to come. Right now, we have an opportunity to be local in our thinking and take a step back and stop focusing so much on capitalistic structures and money."
Tippett, who is a father of four, is often on the move. His studio spaces range from working out of his brother's workshop to the kitchen table, to painting murals on location. In fact, Tippett's first mural was done when he was only 12 years old.
"I painted a mural of Buck Shelford for the Coromandel Rugby Club," he says. "I have to admit, I was a bit useless at rugby and was left right out but my coach, who was also my mentor and adviser, really looked out for me.
"That was the moment I knew I was going to be an artist, " he laughs. "When I knew that I wasn't going to be an All Black!"
For Tippett, art is integral to our survival and he is optimistic about the future.
"I feel we have an opportunity to practise kotahitanga and see the world differently, " he says. "Social change needs to be accompanied by a different way of thinking and right now the choices we make can create unexpectedly positive effects — and I'm hoping we do!"
Like many illustrators who are often heavily art-directed and compelled to follow a brief, Jo Tronc loves the opportunity to be creative.
She has created an abstract summer image featuring a refreshing bowl of fruit that includes apricots, peaches, cherries, mint and pomegranate. The work is a combination of both solid and linear gradients, in turn creating a distinctive and almost 3D quality.
"My work has always been a mixture of traditional and digital. Some components are digitally rendered but I draw all my line work by hand. Next, I scan the image and once it's in Photoshop, the colouring begins, then everything is layered and ready to go."
However, like many other creatives, she still loves the hands-on approach and makes the most of every opportunity to dip her pen or brush.
Reflecting on the changes in the world at the moment, Tronc feels the art market has never been more buoyant. Perhaps it's because more people are at home, transforming their living space into their office, or simply spending more time with family and kids. She says, "If we are spending more time looking at our walls — why not have beautiful art to look at?"
"Art has always meant liberation to me, because it's the one place where you're the boss. You decide what comes out of you and all the decisions are made consciously and subconsciously," says Tracey Tawhiao.
Often found at her kitchen table surrounded by her pottery containers (with no labels, so she has to look in each one to find what she wants) Tawhiao has no frills attached to her kitchen-turned-studio, and it is here that she is found working with newspapers to create her contemporary works of art.
"I find it [newspapers] so available and accessible; and they come into our life every day. They are so much more interesting than a blank canvas."
Tawhiao prefers using the New York Times and the LA Times because of their square shape and the superior paper quality. She says she is fortunate to have access to them through friends. Her method is also highly intuitive and, in many ways, she allows the newspaper to choose her.
"I don't chase newspapers and if a newspaper is in my house I don't judge it. Whatever turns up is exactly the thing that I need — it's a very 'mother' way and it's also a very way kitchen way of doing things."
It's also what has inspired Tawhiao's artwork, which centers on the kitchen.
"My favourite way of cooking is when you don't have a clue as to what you've got but seven people are waiting for you to feed them! You might find some carrots, one onion, maybe some jam and you have to turn it into something."
"That's how I approach most things and art is no different. You don't have much to begin with and yet you end up creating a banquet. It's the most fulfilling way to cook and to create."
Tracey Tawhiao's upcoming exhibition, Te Oranga (The Vitals), at Northart Gallery in Northcote, opens on November 8.
In a previous lifetime, Rod Emmerson spent his days designing roads and sewage systems for a shire council in Australia. On Fridays, he and his mates would gather together for their weekly catch-ups at the pub and it was there that he would sketch caricatures of his friends on beer coasters.
Eventually those caricatures led Emmerson to a full-time career as an illustrator — and ultimately, brought him to his current position as the editorial cartoonist at NZME.
But other projects, such as this, also capture his imagination. His work of art is a highly textured black and white image of an asparagus plant, a specific subject choice that excites him.
"When wandering through a Brisbane art gallery, I found myself looking at a very prehistoric looking plant, " he says, "I was attracted to its form and shape and when the opportunity to create this work presented itself, it was a 30-second decision."
Always a lover of black and white, the choice to create the asparagus in a monochrome palette was also instantaneous. However, the real challenge was to carve time into an already busy eight-hour working day with multiple projects and deadlines. These time restrictions have drawn him away from the nib and brush. Consequently, Emmerson works almost exclusively as a digital artist. However, he still has a collection of drawing gear that he looks at almost daily.
"The feel of nib on paper is a wonderful sensation but with a very narrow window to work in, I sketch everything digitally and I use transparent layers before I finally get what I want."
A firm believer in the innate desire for humans to create and connect through art, Emmerson feels that "as humanity advances, we instinctively turn to creation and that's what make us such visual beasts."
Rod Emmerson, nzherald.co.nz
If you want to be kind to someone what do you do?
"A box of bikkies often does the trick, " says Pony McTate. "Sometimes it's the simple things in life that are the most meaningful."
Sadly McTate's biscuits are not the consumable variety. However, they are the result of her immense skill and talent as a crocheter (or for the folks in the know, a hooker) and her ability to create almost life-like versions of everybody's favourite teatime accompaniment.
Like most of McTate's work, this collection of biscuits is derived from a desire to create art that is playful and brings joy and delight.
"It might not be art with a capital 'A' but if it puts a smile on someone's face, then I've done my job," she says.
From vampire squids to gloves, jewellery to watches, McTate has been crocheting for the past five years and loves the bizarre and outlandish requests she occasionally gets.
"The oddest commission I've had was a bottle of anchovies," she says. "I got an actual anchovy jar and filled it with tiny crocheted little anchovies."
Growing up, McTate was surrounded by different crafts and her mother was an avid crocheter but her own passion was ignited more recently.
"It all started when I had my first baby and needed something to do during those 4am feeds," she says. "I can't remember much from those early days but I do remember crocheting solidly for three weeks and loving the process."
It's easily accessible, affordable, and yes, it's different from knitting, because all you need is your hook and some yarn.
"Crocheting is a wonderfully practical art form," McTate concludes. "It's had a bad rap in the past but it can entertain you and your children as required; prove to be a handy skill when the zombie apocalypse arrives — and at the very least, make you the popular one at Christmas time."
Art with heart
Win a Taste of Kindness print with Canvas and Auckland City Mission
Six artists, including Rod Emmerson, Tracey Tawhiao, Daniel Tippett, Daron Paton, Pony McTate and Jo Tronc, have created stunning artworks based on summer food and a taste of kindness.
Readers can purchase signed limited edition prints of the works here to help us raise money for our charity partner Auckland City Mission or they can enter our giveaway below and be one of six lucky people to win a signed, limited edition print.
To enter the prize draw is free, but we are inviting entrants to give a donation of $10 which will help the Auckland City Mission provide nourishing ingredients for a meal to feed a family of up to four. Please donate at aucklandcitymission.org.nz
When entering the prize draw, please select which artist - Rod Emmerson, Tracey Tawhiao, Daniel Tippett, Daron Paton, Pony McTate or Jo Tronc - is your preferred print.