Desert wildflowers bloom in Taranaki
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’’
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.
Artist Joe Kirkup is rapt to have his painting back and on display at the Art Cafe.