Creepy crawlies flagged as insect art

20:47, Nov 03 2010
I SPY A FLY: Four-year-old Sarah Dicksongets a close look at one of the 50 dead flies intricately painted and decorated by Kiwi artist Peter Madden.

Sarah Dickson does not normally like bugs, but paint a dead fly in eye-catching colours and the four- year-old changes her mind.

Sarah, of Lower Hutt, got up close to about 50 dead flies at the NewDowse Gallery yesterday, getting a sneak preview of an exhibition that opens on Saturday.

The flies form a series by New Zealand artist Peter Madden, whose work forms part of the Bugs, Beetles and Butterflies show, which looks at how artists are inspired by the creepy-crawlies of the natural world.

Sarah's mother, Mary Kibblewhite, said she was surprised her daughter held the fly, but believed it was probably because it was dead and decorated.

"She's a girly girl, but she was quite happy to hold it."

Madden said the fly was one of a series intricately painted with images taken from flags. Others featured a skull, a spider web, or were painted in gold or silver leaf.


The flies were caught in his Auckland garden and frozen before he painted them.

"I use expensive water colours and then varnish them. For all intents and purposes they're a lot like a painting on a canvas."

Madden hoped that the exhibition would inspire children, and adults, to create their own works of art.

Also on display in the exhibition is the New Zealand premiere of the digital work Glowing Pathfinder Bugs - also a hit with Sarah.

The work features a sandpit with digital bugs that children can control through technology which tracks human gestures, leading the bugs to respond.

The sandpit has been developed by Squidsoup, an international collaboration of artists, including Massey University digital design lecturer Chris Bennewith.

Coinciding with the exhibition is the opening of a new visitor lounge in the Lower Hutt gallery, which will include interactive features for children and a reading corner.

The Dominion Post