Desert wild­flow­ers bloom in Taranaki

North Taranaki Midweek - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - CHRIS­TINE WALSH

Aus­tralian desert wild­flow­ers are bloom­ing in New Ply­mouth af­ter ly­ing in the shad­ows of a dis­used part of a shop­ping com­plex for well over a decade.

The story be­hind how they were brought back to life is as quirky as Joe Kirkup, the Taranaki artist who painted them.

Back in 1994, the self-taught artist was com­mis­sioned by Top Town cin­ema and shop­ping com­plex man­age­ment of the day, to cre­ate an art­work to hang on the wall of the for­mer food court area.

Kirkup was paid $2000 for his paint­ing The Lord will pro­vide, that de­picts thou­sands of del­i­cate wild daisies like those that spring up when it rains in the deserts of West­ern Aus­tralia.

The art­work was in­spired by a post­card he had seen dur­ing a job­hunt­ing ex­pe­di­tion in Perth. No two daisies are alike, and the in­tri­cate de­tail of each of them is mind blow­ing.

‘‘I felt my mother, who is deceased, in­flu­enced me. It’s very fem­i­nine and I’m not just a male, I’m a butch male, scrap­per, fighter, worker, you know,’’ Kirkup said.

Kirkup worked on the 5m by 2.5m oil on can­vas for three months, but only at night time. ‘‘Even then it didn’t look big on the wall.’’ ‘‘If you’re paint­ing at night peo­ple are sleep­ing and you just pick up on it,’’ he said.

Un­for­tu­nately not long af­ter it went up, the food court closed down, and the paint­ing was left hang­ing. The com­plex changed hands a few times and Kirkup

‘‘Not try­ing to be any­thing, it's ei­ther you like it or you don't’’

Kirkup

tried to buy his paint­ing back.

‘‘I knew if I got it back I could then dis­play it and peo­ple could see it.’’.

‘‘Then even­tu­ally I went in there one day and the lady said well it’s not even on the list of chat­tels any­more.’’ ‘‘She said you can buy it, make me an of­fer - I of­fered her $200 and she took it.’’

‘‘Un­for­tu­nately it was that big it sat in my garage. I couldn’t take it any­where, it was huge.’’ ‘‘So I cut it down into two pieces.’’

Now The Lord will pro­vide, one and two, have re­turned to the com­plex as part of his ex­hi­bi­tion, Joe’s Col­lec­tion on show at the Art Cafe un­til the end of Feb­ru­ary.

Kirkup said of his own art, ‘‘Not try­ing to be any­thing, it’s ei­ther you like it or you don’t.’’

For Art Cafe’s Sally John­son, whose con­cept has al­ways been to bring the art and cafe to­gether, his eclec­tic works are a per­fect fit for the ca­sual light and bright space.

CHRIS­TINE WALSH/ STUFF

Artist Joe Kirkup is rapt to have his paint­ing back and on dis­play at the Art Cafe.

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