Adventurous migrant artists find niche in Mapua
When South Africans Russel and Charisse Papworth arrived in New Zealand with their family two years ago, they thought they had booked accommodation in Nelson.
In fact, the bed-and-breakfast they were looking for was waiting for them in Mapua, a 35-minute drive away.
It was a fortuitous error. Mapua proved to be the ideal location for the art showroom they were planning and, within four days, their two children had been enrolled at a school, they had found themselves a rented house and signed a lease on business premises on the Mapua wharf.
‘‘You might say it was a miraculous journey. We had enjoyed a beautiful life in South Africa but decided it was time for a change and a new adventure,’’ Charisse Papworth says.
‘‘We had no idea what we were going to make or do. In South Africa, we had been involved in retail, wholesale and manufacturing.’’
The direction became clear when Russel, a bronze sculptor, observed a pair of garden implements on the ground and thought they resembled the body and tail of a fish. With a little manipulation, he was able to transform them into an artwork.
In this way, Forest Fusion Functional Art was born. Russel has developed an imaginative collection of metal pieces that are derived from recycled tools and implements. They have been greeted enthusiastically by New Zealanders and overseas tourists alike.
‘‘There are hundreds of Russel’s fish all over the world now and each one has its own personality,’’ Charisse says.
There will also be a substantial shoal of them at the Culverden Christmas Country Fete where Charisse’s contemporary pewter jewellery will also be exhibited.
The couple have no formal training in their chosen art forms.
‘‘It has been trust, ignorance and striking it lucky,’’ she says.
‘‘Russel’s style is very special and the finish on his pieces is exceptional. He has good concepts and his work is thorough and neat. The pieces he makes could go into the home of a multimillionaire or into that of Joe Public.’’
She says people have been welcoming, encouraging and supportive.
‘‘This is home for at least another 10 years – until we come up with another crazy concept.’’
Forest Fusion Functional Art now supplies works of art to four New Zealand galleries.
For more examples of the Papworths’ art, visit the website forestfusion.com
Russel and Charisse Papworth found Mapua and started a creative enterprise there when they arrived in NewZealand from South Africa two years ago. Metal Warrior: The tynes of a hoe have been employed to fashion the tail feathers of Warrior the Rooster.
Russel Papworth, of Forest Fusion Functional Art, has transformed recycled tools into a collection of striking metal fish.