Paint shop finish for sculptures

Working together: Kaikoura sculptor Ben Foster with the horse and dog sculpture painted by Russell's Panel and Paint
Working together: Kaikoura sculptor Ben Foster with the horse and dog sculpture painted by Russell's Panel and Paint

Painting a horse is not usually part of the work day for staff at Russell's Panel and Paint workshop in Blenheim.

But, thanks to a collaboration with Kaikoura artist Ben Foster, staff at the business have been hard at work painting not only a horse, but dogs and a seal as well and their work will soon be on display in an Auckland art gallery.

Mr Foster, who specialises in metal sculptures including animals, contacted the business about six months ago looking for a professional shop to help him get the right finish to his work.

Workshop manager Andrew Frew said when Mr Foster called asking how much it would cost to paint one of his dog sculptures he thought it was a prank.

"Most people ring and ask how much will it cost to get their car painted, not their dog. I thought someone was having a joke on me but when he did turn up I thought ‘oh he is for real' and when he popped the boot I saw how much work had gone into it [the scuplture]."

When he arrived at the business and talked about the job, Mr Foster said it felt like a great fit and since then they have painted four dog sculptures and a seal sculpture for him, along with the horse.

The pieces will be part of a solo exhibition at the Sanderson Contemporary Art Gallery in Parnell, Auckland, next week.

Mr Foster has worked as a sculptor in Kaikoura for five years and usually creates abstract metal works. He started making animals about a year ago and said they had proved to be much more popular than his other work.

The horse was the largest work he had attempted, he said.

Mr Frew said the horse was tricky to paint and took three people between 13 and 15 hours to prime, paint, sand and fill the horse and get a good polished finish.

Painting the sculptures was a lot of fun though, he said.

"People used to say to me what's the weirdest thing you have painted and I'd say probably a coffee machine, now I can say I have painted a horse."

The staff were excited to see their work on display and it had attracted attention for the store.

"It's definitely drawn a lot of people in. We've had people from America who have travelled through, seen it and stopped in to take a look and take his [Mr Foster's] card, so it's good for both of us," Mr Frew said.

The Marlborough Express