Exploring New Zealand as a theme

I was born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand. I am very proud to be a kiwi. I really do think it is one of the most beautiful places on earth and the kind of life you have growing up surrounded by nature and smiling, helpful, self aware people put me in good stead for my future adventures around the world. But when I left the country aged 25 I felt I needed to bounce myself off a city that had no limits. I didn't want everyone knowing my gossip, my short comings, my failures when I had them. As a country of 4 million people (3,2 million when I left in 2001) we are relatively small and there's a good side to that, and a bad one. The good side is that you can rise to the top in your given profession relatively quickly and easily. I had already accomplished a significant amount as a photographer and musician before the age of 25. But the down side is that there is only a limited amount of people in your given domain, and you can easily find your advancement being blocked by one or two people who you don't gel with. In Paris, London or New York there's just too many people for that to happen. The possibilities are endless and that excites the hell out of me. 

During my 15 years in Paris I spent a considerable amount of them fulfilling the stereotype of 'starving artist' in a tiny apartment. It was at this time that I started painting scenes of New Zealand landscapes which I hung on the walls and they served as windows to something hopeful and beautiful. I also painted a number of portraits of Maori people I found in vintage photographs as a way to acknowledge my New Zealandness.

It is interesting to me that within the first month of landing in New York, I have found validation as a New Zealand artist through Ora Gallery and its creator Giarna TeKanawa. Next month (March 2016) I will have my first solo show of paintings and photographic works here at Ora Gallery. And the following month I will be showing my photographs in a group show I helped to curate in the same gallery. In honor of my New Zealand heritage I painted a giant portrait of a Maori Elder as depicted by the painter Charles Fredrik Goldie in the last 1800's. It feels like coming home.