Vivaldi gives way to Time Warp

SIENA YATES
Last updated 11:01 18/02/2013
Ocularis
FAIRFAX NZ

Spectral wonder: New Zealand Painting and Printmaking Award judge, Blair French, sponsor, Lyn Vela and winner, Kirsten Roberts, with her winning piece, Ocularis.

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It's a strange thing to go from sipping bubbles at an art exhibition, to watching an orchestra play against the setting sun, to throwing toast and dancing the Time Warp on the Rhododendron Lawn.

Yet it's hard to think of a better way to kick off the Hamilton Garden Arts Festival which opened on Friday evening, with the New Zealand Painting and Printmaking Awards, where at least two Waikato artists have made an impression.

Judge Blair French made honourable mention of Waikato artists, Mark Braunias for his piece The male gaze, and 24-year-old Andrew Simmonds, saying the work was impressive for someone so young.

Top honours and the $20,000 award from the Philip Vela Family Trust, went to past finalist Kirsten Roberts, for her "immersive mystery" piece Ocularis.

Lara Hall and the Opus Orchestra followed, with Vivaldi's Four Seasons.

However, by then the not-so-sultry sounds of The Rocky Horror Picture Show were starting to take over the gardens, drawing in a whole different crowd. Blanket-clad, they yelled lines at the screen, threw props like toilet paper, toast and cards among themselves as the plot called for it and collectively danced the Time Warp.

And that's just the first night.

Saturday brought with it a hilarious theatre adaptation of The Importance of Being Earnest. Yesterday packed in a range of events from a teddy bears' picnic to authors' blind speed dating, to Maori culture workshops and a band of ukulele superstars.

Every day between now and next Thursday is as jam-packed with events. See hgaf.co.nz

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- Waikato

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