Building relationships through art

NEW PIECE: Artist Lonnie Hutchinson with the digital rendition of her ‘‘Arc’’ sculpture in the background.
NEW PIECE: Artist Lonnie Hutchinson with the digital rendition of her ‘‘Arc’’ sculpture in the background.

Philanthropic arts group Mesh is bringing more to Hamilton than nationally significant sculptures.

It's also bringing nationally significant contemporary artists and they're getting involved with the city and its people.

It's another strand to the group's mission to turn Hamilton into a public arts destination rivalling Wellington or Melbourne.

Designers of the first two sculptures, Seung Yul Oh and Lonnie Hutchinson, held a last-minute talk about their portfolio of work at Waikato Museum's lecture theatre this week. They also gave the 30-strong audience an idea of how their relationship with Hamilton has changed since becoming involved with Mesh.

Auckland's Lonnie Hutchinson had shown her work at the museum gallery before so there was already a relationship with the arts community.

"Since I started working on this, that community has grown and I've got to know more people and learn more about Hamilton," she said.

Her corten steele creation has the working title "Arc" and will be located on the site of the old Shell service station, near the entrance to Lake Rotoroa, on Pembroke St. The concept reflects her response to the history of the lake and surrounding areas and its significance to Maori as a prime source of food and materials.

In the future, the Ngai Tahu artist said her ties to Hamilton will grow.

Hamilton West Primary School recently held a competition to design what they think ‘Arc' will look like and Hutchinson dropped in on Tuesday to present prizes to the pupils and talk to them about the process of designing and making a major sculpture.

"They asked if I'd be keen to come down next year and help them out with a project. I said it's not a bad idea and, sure, I'd like to come down and see if I can help. It's a developing relationship with the community."

Oh, who The Arts Foundation calls "one of the bright talents to have emerged on the New Zealand art scene in the 21st century" had a simpler explanation. "Recently, I've been driving down here three times a week. And where I am, Auckland, and Hamilton, got closer," he said. "It felt like a long way away, but now I feel very close - in terms of through the process and project. I think this is the beginning of starting the relationships and already I've made some good contacts."

He has also been in contact with the city's Korean community.

"It's really nice to just expand the audience and the people I get to know."

Mesh chairwoman Nancy Caiger said they're now beginning to see the fruits of their labour. "It is very exciting to see the visual impact we will have on Hamilton in only four months and even more exciting to think about what kinds of works we will be able to give our city over the next five years and beyond".

Waikato Times