Waxing lyrical on the landscape

02:08, Sep 19 2012
William Hunt
STICKY MAGIC: William Hunt with works in wax from the exhibition Landscapes from Without and Within at the McKee Gallery.

William Hunt says his artworks “don't need to be kept in the freezer”, but they will melt if left in direct sunlight or by a heat source. What's this all about? Anna Pearson reports.

William Hunt spent eight years making balms with beeswax in Golden Bay, and now he's using it for a completely different purpose.

Hunt, who stopped working in the Tui Balm workers' co-operative at Tui Community to pursue a career as an artist, uses coloured wax to create artworks.

Hunt's works at the McKee Gallery form part of a joint show with Nelson artist Marilyn Andrews.

Landscapes from Without and Within opened yesterday and runs until October 7.

Andrews says her works are about playing with colour, texture, light and different materials.


"They're like many tentacles related to a core idea, but branching out like the legs of an octopus," she says.

Hunt's paintings feature bars, frames, windows, horizons and reoccurring images. He draws with wax pencils or blocks of red, blue, yellow, white and black wax. He drips it, mashes it into his paintings, layers it on and scrapes it off.

Hunt is a Swiss import, who immigrated to New Zealand as a printer in 1982. Offset printing had taken over from typographic printing, and he had the skills of the trade from a four-year apprenticeship in Switzerland.

Hunt worked in the layout department at the Wairarapa Times-Age in Masterton for a year, but he “wouldn't have a clue how they do it now”.

His various other jobs in New Zealand have included landscape gardening in Hokitika, starting and running Hot Mamas in Motueka, and working in the Tui Balm workers' co-operative.

Hunt, who is a member of the Tui Spiritual and Educational Trust, left the workers' collective to become an artist. He did most of a three-year extramural course with the Learning Connexion while still living at Tui Community, and moved to Wellington to finish the course at the start of this year.

He then enrolled in a six-month design course with the Newtown-based Bowerman School of Design, which he is doing now.

Hunt says he has been creating artworks out of wax ever since he picked some up during a week-long initiation in Wellington for the Learning Connexion course.

“Wax is something that will hopefully always be available. It's something that lasts forever. It's a bit sculptural. It's a magic thing,” he says.

William Hunt and Marilyn Andrews, Landscapes from Without and Within, McKee Gallery, until October 7.