Cows, sheep vie in 'Tour of Southland' paintings

GWYNETH HYNDMAN
Last updated 05:00 29/10/2012
Lynley van Alphen
NICOLE GOURLEY/Fairfax NZ

HUMOROUS: Tapanui artist Lynley van Alphen is showing 13 paintings inspired by farming and the Tour of Southland.

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The Tour of Southland serves as a comic vehicle for one artist's take on the changing face of farming.

Tapanui artist Lynley van Alphen began painting two years ago, after an illness forced her to take a break from farm work.

About the time of the Tour of Southland, she was in a Lawrence cafe discussing dairying and sheep farming with her husband.

Suddenly, a striking image came to mind of cows and sheep competing for Southland territory on road bikes came to mind.

Her idea was turned into artwork, starting with The Finish Line, showing sheep "taking the mickey" out of cows as they hurtle towards the line to win the prize.

More paintings telling a wider story evolved.

Van Alphen has produced series based on spots around Southland, from wind farms and the barren hills of the Crown Range to the meatworks at Bluff.

"Dairy farmers might be pushing them out, but sheep are still trying to hang on," she said, speaking from experience as a farmer in both dairy and sheep and beef.

The family now own a lifestyle block outside Tapanui, but she was still interested in the politics around Southland farming and how it was changing the landscape around her.

"Quite a few of my paintings sling off cows a bit, showing the sheep to be cunning and devious in their bid to stay."

It was a subject that might be a little controversial, but van Alphen encouraged people to have an open mind to "poke a bit of fun at [the] topics."

The 13 paintings on display at the City Gallery in Don St are now illustrations for a book van Alphen self-published in Nelson recently.

The exhibition runs for four weeks at the Invercargill gallery. The book of paintings is also on sale at the gallery.

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- The Southland Times

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