Artist's work highlights festival history

Former Marlborough Wine and Food Festival co-ordinator Mike Blair holds a copy of a new DVD recounting its 30-year ...

Former Marlborough Wine and Food Festival co-ordinator Mike Blair holds a copy of a new DVD recounting its 30-year history. Its cover illustration is taken from a painting by retired artist Triska Blumenfeld for the festival in 1997.

Characters created by retired artist Triska Blumenfeld are brought to life again in a new 50-minute film documenting the 30-year-old Marlborough Wine and Food Festival.

Marlborough Vintage, by Renwick film-maker Paul Davidson, was released by Bytesize Productions last month in time for the 2015 Marlborough Wine and Food Festival.

On Friday it was screened at the Springlands Lifestyle Village in Blenheim. Blumenfeld, a resident, was given a special front-row seat.

Stories in Marlborough Vintage are told by people involved in the festival since its launch in 1985 as a way of putting Marlborough wines and foods on the international map.

Blumenfeld's association with it started through her late husband, Grovetown olive grower Gidon Blumenfeld, who sold his cured fruit at the festival. But Triska's passion was painting and in 1997 she painted a large scene of the festival, recording the colours and communal fun created when thousands of people come together for a good time.

The painting hangs in the Marlborough District Library in Blenheim and a small copy of it was used for the DVD cover of Marlborough Vintage.

Blumenfeld identifies herself as a "naive artist" who made colourful, real-life scenes of people her specialty.

Wellington researcher Barbara Gibb, who gathered material about the festival for Davidson's film, said Blumenfeld never took notes or did any preliminary drawings before she did a painting.

"She did the paintings out of her memory. A lot of people in the paintings would have been there, but others weren't.

"She knew they should have been so she put them in."

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Marlborough Express reporter-cartoonist Henk Hilhorst, for example, usually turned up at the festival with his notebook. His death in 1991 was no reason for Blumenfeld to leave him out of her 1997 painting.

Other characters she captured include Morris dancers, a garlic bulb impersonator and a group of Royal New Zealand Air Force cadets who turned up wearing air base-stamped cotton sheets, ready for a toga party.

"How could you not be inspired?" Blumenfeld says before the camera in Marlborough Vintage. "Everything closed down around the Marlborough Wine and Food Festival. How could you not take part in it?"

Joining Blumenfeld as a special guest at Friday's screening was Mike Blair who co-ordinated the festival from 1989 to 1997. Working for Air New Zealand during that time, he was influential in the airline's festival sponsorship, transporting people from around the country to the day's event in Boeing 737 planes that didn't otherwise go to Blenheim. One year, the film reports, 24,000 people filled the Marlborough Wine and Festival grounds.

 - The Marlborough Express


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