Portait of former AB a winner

RANDALL WALKER
Last updated 16:32 24/10/2012
Frano Botica
Punter’s pick: Frano Botica by Paraparaumu’s Debbie Graham.
Debbie Graham
Debbie Graham was thrilled with her win at the Kapiti Observer Rotary Art Show.

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A painting of a former All Black turned down for a prestigious Wellington exhibition has hit the jackpot at the 10th anniversary Kapiti Observer Rotary Art Show.

Paraparaumu artist Debbie Graham's portrait of former All Black Frano Botica scooped the People's Choice award, following the show, which closed on Monday, having earlier won the Best Portrait/People award.

The portrait was also the most expensive painting to be sold during the four-day show, selling on opening night for $1500, which with the prize money saw Graham pocket $2200.

She was delighted to have earned the People's Choice. ''[It] blew me away because I think that's everybody or anybody, not just one person, so that's pretty up there in my books.''

Graham said she had wanted to paint someone recognisable to enter Wellington's Adam Portraiture Award and Exhibition, and through a ''friend of a friend'' asked Botica.

He agreed to meet her on a trip to Levin to coach rugby at the end of last year and she took some photos and worked from them.

''I think he's got a lovely face, aged well, and its got quite a bit of character.''

The painting was not selected for the Adam exhibition, but was admired by the judge and visitors to Kapiti's show, and the subject himself.

''I emailed him the copy and he said 'well done, it's a good likeness', so I was really pleased with that.''

It was Graham's sole entry this year, her third time entering the show. The first year she won Best Acrylic.

She missed out on receving her portrait award at the exhibition launch last Thursday, being out celebrating her 46th birthday.

The mother of three said she had always loved drawing and was a self taught painter of 12 years, with portraiture ''a passion''.

''I moved up to the Kapiti Coast about six years ago, from Lower Hutt, and one of the reasons was to be able to have a bit more time to be able to focus on it.''

Show director Bob Hamilton said Frano Botica claimed 75 votes or 9.8 per cent of the 767 valid votes cast.

Pastels by Auckland artist Julie Freeman took out the second and third spots. ifSea Kelp nf, which won Best Pastel, received 44 votes, and Katelyn, a merit winner in the Portrait section, 31 votes.

He said about 1000 people visited the show at Southward Theatre over the four days, which was on a par with recent years.

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''We sold 40 paintings, which is up on last year.''

Money raised from the show is held in the trust to be used in fine arts in Kapiti.

Who is Frano Botica

Botica played rugby union for North Harbour. He was an All Black from 1986–1989.

He also played for New Zealand Maori, 1985 to 1989; and appeared in the Super 12, once, for the Chiefs in 1998.

He switched to rugby league, playing for the Auckland Warriors from 1997-98 and for New Zealand from 1991-1993.

- Kapiti Observer

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