Off the wall

While arts editor Judith Ritchie takes a holiday, Kate Davidson and Alden Williams visited some Nelson business-people to see what was hanging on their walls. Alden Williams took the photos.

Verena Maeder - Earth builder

Verena Maeder's chosen piece is one of beauty, landscape and politics painted by Wakefield artist, Kate Yolland last year as the government opened the gateway to deep sea drilling in New Zealand. It carries a message opposing that move and its slightly melancholic aura offers an avenue through which Maeder can deal with the challenges of fighting the hard battle for the environment.

"I feel very passionate to protect New Zealand from going down the oil drilling path," she says. "I have got sadness in me because of what is happening and the environmental work is really quite intense. It makes you very dark sometimes and you lose your hope and it had that sadness and it really helped somehow."

The work is based on a 1970's tourism poster featuring Mitre Peak. There are dark shadows hinting to the known oil spill disasters in the bottom left corner. Outlines of birds that were killed during the Rena oil spill haunt the pleasantries of the beautiful landscape.

"It is a play on John Key being our Minister for Tourism yet signing off half of New Zealand for oil exploration," says Maeder.

The piece visualises the message, but without being in people's faces.

"Art is just a different way of looking at things" she says. "I find it speaks to people on a heart level."

She appreciates the subtle play of the image and says the gentleness of the piece reflects the gentle nature of the artist.

It was gift of appreciation and exchange rather than monetary value with Verena helping Kate restore her garden in as payment for the painting.

The work has only featured on her wall for a couple of months and has a clean un-framed look. The next step is to frame the painting to protect it so it can remain a remnant of this time and her struggle for New Zealand's environment.

"Is this really what we want for our beautiful country, my answer is no," she says. "It is a reality at the moment, and hopefully when things change, we can look back at this and remember when New Zealand was wanting to become the new Saudi Arabia, new Gulf of Mexico etc."

Jeff Rackley - Haven Realty

As you enter a small and slightly gloomy meeting room at Haven Realty, two warm paintings of Abel Tasman National Park are waiting to greet you.

Kaiteriteri Lagoon (pictured) and Cathedral Cove are paintings in acrylic by Christchurch artist, Linelle Stacey that Haven Realty's Jeff Rackley purchased six years ago.

While Rackley admits that he is not very talkative about art, he says that he was drawn to the heavy contrast and the tonal variety from the green and pale blues in the shallows through to the darker blues out to sea. "They both brighten the place up," he says.

Being his favourite spot in the region, Rackley has visited Kaiteriteri many times however recently not as often as he would like.

"These days you don't jump in your car enough and go to a place like that."

Jeff McLean - Owner of Deville Café

The snake and mongoose piece was a spontaneous purchase nine years ago from Lipscombe, the local auction house next door, for less than $100, but its value is not measured in the dollar sign.

"Deville grew organically and this (taxidermy) was part of the aesthetic from the start," says McLean.

Taxidermy litters Deville's walls, a fox, a deer, and a deer's antlers.

It all started with the mounted deer's head and has extended to the latest edition, the fox, just three months old.

It's not about trend setting as whether taxidermy is making a come back in fashion is of no concern.

"I don't really worry about that, it is almost a play on the word Deville, we often refer to things being Devillian, which suits our name and style," he says.

McLean picked out this piece particularly as it was not something one would see every day and the subjects are curious creatures and "natural enemies" facing off.

His interest in taxidermy stems from nostalgic memories of Gentleman's Clubs of his younger days - a room full of billiard tables, a barman with a crisp white shirt and bowtie and taxidermy from all over the world, echoing the myths of a time gone by in foreign lands.

The mongoose and the snake attract stares, points and photos and is not "necessarily everybody's things" with some "getting freaked out by them".

McLean has another piece featuring a snake and mongoose, but its a little worse for wear after his grandson decided to window clean the mongoose's throat and poured cleaner down its open mouth.

The taxidermy chosen to feature in Deville Café is a reflection of his inclusive and cooperative management style.

It is an unusual, but nice philosophy that happened by accident he says.

"It's not just about me because without these guys this place would be nothing. It's all part of what makes it work and the fun that we have. It's a real family sort of a style."

Hudson Dodd - General Manager Brook Waimarama Sanctuary

Standing tall at over 2 metres, it is hard to miss Dean Raybould's tribute to the huia as you enter The Brook Waimarama Sanctuary's Morrison Square office.

General Manager Hudson Dodd has always admired Raybould's work and thinks that it "is visually stunning and does a great job of capturing the spirit of the animals he is depicting, not just their physical form."

The Takaka artist has produced 13 other pieces for the sanctuary depicting various flora and fauna including an equally large kakapo and a tieke.

All of these have been designed to show the development of the sanctuary since conception. "Dean has been supportive of the project from the beginning and has designed our logo as well. His previous subject matter includes native birds, so he was a natural fit," he says.

"The huia is doing a spiral soar, one might think of it as a swan song for the huia. At the sanctuary we are trying to prevent additional species of native birds from following in the huia's footsteps." The office in town is a temporary home for Raybould's artwork, with most of it evenly spaced around the office and at the entrance.

When the $4.7million funding goal is reached, all 14 pieces are likely to be mounted on the concrete dam near the visitors centre car park. While this location is notconfirmed, Dodd wants all of his work to be prominent and in the public eye.