Streetscape cel­e­bra­tion

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

From the be­gin­ning, artist Sarah Platt was onto some­thing. Sarah’s colour­ful naive non-nat­u­ral­is­tic style vis­tas of Palmer­ston North streets, build­ings and land­marks caught on when she in­tro­duced them in 2003, and have kept the painter busy ever since.

‘‘It wasn’t a de­lib­er­ate thing. I’d been do­ing por­trait work for fam­ily mem­bers and was work­ing on a se­ries for Easter. I used to drive past Sav­age Cres, and got to think­ing there wasn’t much art­work of Palmer­ston North – [ac­tu­ally] there still isn’t.’’

When Sarah first talked about her streetscape idea, peo­ple laughed. ‘‘‘It’s Palmer­ston North,’ they said, ‘there won’t be a mar­ket for that sort of stuff’.’’

Her first ex­hi­bi­tion of the dis­tinc­tive paint­ings was held at Tay­lor-Jensen Gallery. ‘‘They went like hot-cakes.’’ And still do. Th­ese days, Sarah spends much of her time on com­mis­sions – paint­ings of places that have mean­ing for peo­ple and their fam­i­lies – homes, schools, churches, streets and the like – as keep­sakes or gifts. Some pieces can take three months to com­plete, and Sarah re­gards them as le­ga­cies.

‘‘The paint­ings are all some­one’s story. The non-nat­u­ral­is­tic style en­ables me to re­pro­duce ev­ery­thing in a com­po­si­tion that is pleas­ing, and the pub­lic re­sponse has kept me go­ing.’’

If there was a de­mand for this style from lo­cals, she thought, it might go down well in other cen­tres. To date she has painted a se­ries of Hawkes Bay towns, Whanganui, New Ply­mouth and Welling­ton, and is work­ing on a se­ries of Auck­land paint­ings.

‘‘Hope­fully I can get to paint most New Zealand cities.’’

But, as her com­mis­sioned work is pre-sold, Sarah hasn’t got enough orig­i­nal paint­ings left for an ex­hi­bi­tion.

‘‘Jack Reg­is­ter told me I have to keep a pres­ence for the home au­di­ence, and peo­ple here have been good to me, so I’ve man­aged to bor­row about 10 paint­ings from pri­vate col­lec­tionss that peo­ple won’t have seen be­fore.’’

The ex­hi­bi­tion opens in Square Edge this Fri­day, March 18 and runs un­til April 12. Dur­ing it Sarah plans to set up an easel and progress a com­mis­sioned paint­ing she is work­ing on so peo­ple can ap­pre­ci­ate the work that goes into it.

PHOTO: MUR­RAY WIL­SON/ FAIRFAX NZ

Artist Sarah Platt with three of the paint­ings bor­rowed from pri­vate col­lec­tions for her new ex­hi­bi­tion open­ing in Square Edge on Fri­day.

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