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The art of chigirie is really blooming

NICOLA MURPHY
Last updated 05:00 29/06/2010
CHIGIRIE
NICOLA MURPHY
PERFECT PAPER: Barbara Ker-Mann with one of her chigirie pictures.

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Tearing up pieces of coloured paper and pasting them on top of each other might not sound like everyone's cup of tea.

But Barbara Ker-Mann is in love with the art of chigirie.

The 77-year-old originally painted with watercolours and acrylics.

But she discovered chigirie on a trip to Japan more than 25 years ago and was hooked.

Barbara returned to Japan to study chigirie properly after the death of her husband in 1995 and received lessons from Akiko Otani – who she came upon by chance.

"It was one of those serendipitous moments," she says.

"I happened to ask one of the airline staff I was travelling with if she knew of any chigirie artists, and she put me in touch with Akiko," Barbara says.

Fast-forward 15 years and Barbara's interest in the art form is still strong.

The Henderson resident believes she is the only chigirie artist in New Zealand.

"The most frequent comment about my work is that people have never seen anything like it before.

"I love painting in acrylics, but I think it's the texture of chigirie that I love, the vibrancy of the colours.

"I just find it very satisfying."

Producing a chigirie picture only takes Barbara a few days.

"I'm quite fast. I'm very focused once I begin a picture."

Barbara enjoys capturing landscapes and says New Zealand is very lucky to have such beautiful scenery.

And she ought to know, having lived in Gisborne, Akaroa, Wellington and Kaikoura.

The multitalented artist has also been a secondary school teacher, violin teacher and novelist.

She is now planning a series of chigirie workshops.

Call 837-1776 for information.

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