Shiny things at the heart of exhibition

JUDITH RITCHIE
Last updated 14:32 02/04/2014
Lawrence Walterfang
ALDEN WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ
SHINING THROUGH: Greta Tapper with her work Sunshine.

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To Greta Tapper, everyone is a shiny person. In her first solo exhibition Shiney, Tapper plays with the spelling of the word shiny, adding an e, because e's are always smiling and the normal spelling seemed "too small."

"It was the ‘shiny' of tinsel and diamonds. This shiny needed to be bigger as it was a much bigger shine," says Tapper enthusiastically.

"The coolest thing about the English language is that there is no single official version - it is our language to play with."

Tapper's watercolour pencil washes on paper are portraits chosen "to teach us how to unveil our shineyness."

"A quick glance at their face reminds us of all a personality can encompass, of all a person can mean to us," she says.

Initially Tapper experimented with painting world icons; people we have already turned into our modern day saints and heroes, but realised that even closer to home there are people who affect us. "Even strangers on the street can do something that brings a bit of goodness to your day," she adds. "A smile or single moment can affect a person greatly."

Her exhibition explores themes of tranquility and finding happiness. Some of her portraits depict people who have reached this state, while others are still on the journey, representing a different aspect of the shiny spirit within.

"Once a person is represented in a painting, their image becomes symbolic of what we wish to see in them."

Originally trained as a costume designer, Tapper's favourite class was always figure drawing, and she credits her tutors for passing on many skills.

"Tutors like Sally Burton, Margaret Maloney and Jill Alexander taught me so much," she says. "Sally opened up my eyes to how a body can be expressed in a different way, an individual interpretation," she adds. "How you express that person can really affect their look."

This series was also an investigation into ways of manipulating watercolour pencils.

"I have used all sorts of techniques and brushwork, and most of it was done in a spirit of let's see what happens when I do this," she says. "Some of it is hit and some are miss, but the journey is as important as the destination, or else you probably wouldn't get to see any of them."

  • Shiney, Greta Tapper, Momentum Gallery, Equilibrium Chiropractors, Church St, Nelson, opens tomorrow, 5.30pm, all welcome, to April 24.

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