A playful take on Kiwiana
It’s Kiwiana, but not as you know it – New Zealand icons are being given a subversive spin by a Titahi Bay man in an exhibition this week.
Sculptor and The Hobbit lighting technician Mark Newnham is exhibiting three pieces in Unscripted, a showcase of art created by Wellington’s film industry workers.
Mr Newnham tends towards sculptures that play on New Zealand’s colonial past, a subject he is fascinated with.
The 45-year-old arrived in New Zealand from London at age five with his ‘‘£50 Pom’’ parents.
His first taste of Kiwiana was a green plastic tiki Air New Zealand gave to passengers at the time, and themes of Maoridom and colonialism have interested him ever since.
Mr Four Square is one of his most popular hardwood sculptures, and he has copped flak for a large tiki sculpture which references Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream.
Mr Newnham responded to critics who said he wasn’t ‘‘Kiwi enough’’ to use Maori symbols by pointing out that he grew up among Maori in Ngaruawahia.
‘‘If that isn’t living amongst the culture, what is?’’ he says.
‘‘We’ve all arrived here; [there’s] just a bit of a time difference.’’
Sports Bunny, a sculpture Mr Newham is showing in Unscripted, epitomises his irreverent attitude to colonialism.
cute, quintessentially English ‘‘Peter Rabbit’’ animals by early settlers, who imported them to make New Zealand feel like their homeland.
The critters soon took over and are now the bane of farmers’ lives.
For his rabbit sculpture Sports Bunny, Mr Newnham used a natural eye in the wood to depict a bullet wound in the bunny’s forehead. ‘‘I just think that whole colonialism thing was very funny,’’ he says.
The Unscripted exhibition runs until September 9 at St James Theatre, Courtenay Pl, Wellington.