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This week's Newsmaker is artist Trevor Nathan, who recently had another piece of his art installed in Kuirau Park.

Tell us about yourself:

Feel like I'm 30, actually 51. Born in Te Kuiti, lived in Pureora Forest Village, moving to Rotorua in 1970. I'm of Ngati Maniapoto/Nga Puhi/ European descent and attended Glenholme Primary, Rotorua Intermediate and Rotorua Boys' High School. I'm married to Helen with two children, Hannah (15) and Alec (11).

How long have you been an artist?
I have worked full-time as an artist for 15 years after a career as a sign-writer.


What sort of artwork are you involved in?
My work as a sculptor has always been an evolutionary thing. I would probably classify myself as a multimedia sculptor with a passion for sculpting in both hard stone (marble, granite, andesite), soft stone (lime stone, hinuera) and timber. I have a preference for New Zealand natives (totara, matai) but have been using some exotics as well. Recently I have started working in metals and the mixing of mediums.

What's great about being an artist?
What's great about being an artist is the ability to express myself through my work. It's a good feeling to take someone's idea when they approach you for a commission and transform that idea into a three-dimensional reality.

Is it hard making a living out of your passion?
When you first start out as an artist you have to do the hard yards. Create a portfolio of work, knock on gallery doors, and apply for exhibition space and symposium. At some point, as it did for me, doors start to open, sales and commissions start happening, and you realise it's all been worth it.

How did the Kuirau Park sculpture come about?
Rotorua Lakes Council put out an expression of interest to create a sculpture for Kuirau Park to celebrate its history or environment. I chose to to create a contemporary sculpture in the form of Stamen, a celebration of our park's beautiful gardens, and was fortunately the chosen artist.

Are you happy with the way it's turned out?
Personally I think this sculpture sits well in its placement and once gardened it will become a focal point for Kuirau Park-but then I would say that.

How do you cope with criticism about your work, for example those who think it's a waste of ratepayers' money?
Art is so subjective. What one person may see and like another may hate, and as an artist I appreciate all praise and criticism. Art must create discussion and as the artist, without it one can't evolve.

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Why should we have artwork in our city?
In my travels both nationally and abroad, I have noticed that cities with large amounts of public art and galleries have an energy to them. Wellington and Melbourne are good examples. Art seems to invoke a sense of pride in these and other cities and I can't see why it shouldn't happen here as well. When I first moved here as a kid, if someone asked you where is the tourism capital of New Zealand, the first word out of your mouth was Rotorua. More often than not it's Queenstown now. I love this city and reckon we should make it the tourism and art capital of New Zealand.

What other projects have you got on the go?
I've had a bit of a monster year these last few months, and as well as working on Stamen I have been producing a 4m-high commission for a local private residence and am in the process of finishing a three-piece exhibition piece for the upcoming Shape Shifter exhibition at the Douse Gallery in Wellington. Other commission work is upcoming and the development of my own gallery and sculpture gardens at 105b SH30, Tikitere, will keep me busy for a wee while yet.

What are three things most people wouldn't know about you?
For those people who know me there's not much they wouldn't know, I'm a fairly open book.