Sunday, July 14, 2013

Artist Jon Chapman-Smith

New works blend Kiwiana with traditional Chinese art 01 October 2007 Artist Jon Chapman-Smith's digital on canvas and wood and acrylic cuts mix influences from his Chinese and European heritage with a distinctly New Zealand flavour. His exhibition of new works entitled Full Circle opens at Ponsonby's Letham Gallery on 12 October and runs for two weeks.The collection of 20 pieces include stylised hand-drawn digital designs on canvas and laser cut from Kauri and acrylic. Chapman-Smith has taken a modern approach using digital tools to cut out his original illustrations in the wood and acrylic. The inspiration for the exhibition comes from traditional Chinese Taoist art and art nouveau. The pieces depict life stories through symbols and imagery. One of the intricate wood cuts called Smoko is shaped like a shearing hand piece and depicts Chapman Smith's father shearing a sheep. Another in the shape of a crayfish is entitled Kai Moana and includes a scallop shell, a tui, crabs and waves. This exhibition's central image Cultural Fusion is a circle design. At its centre is the Chinese good luck symbol branching out in an intricate pattern of a stylized Koru and Maori design representing life and growth. "The whole show is about cultural mix," says Chapman-Smith, "which is indicative of my upbringing." Chapman-Smith, whose father was of Irish descent, was brought up on a sheep farm in coastal Te Akau, north of Raglan in what he describes as "a pretty awesome upbringing" before coming to Auckland at the age of 10 to board at Dilworth School. "As a boy I used to do a lot of tattoo designs and wood carving. I used the tools from around the farm like my Dad's angle grinder to make bone carvings." Once in Auckland at boarding school, weekends were spent at his Nonna's - his mother's mother, Meme Churton - house in Parnell. She was half-Chinese, half-Italian and ran the first art gallery in Auckland's Symonds Street called The Gallery. She also owned the first cafes Auckland had seen, first Ca do'ro and then later the better known Trieste in Wakefield Street back in the late '50s. Meme mixed with artists like Colin McCahon, Pat Hanley, Don Binney and Robert Ellis to name a few and had an extensive art collection. "When you see my work a lot of it has been influenced at an early age by what saw on her wall - the use of colour, hard lines and classic Chinese prints are reflected in all of my artwork now," says Chapman-Smith. "Her place was a bit like a museum," he says. "She had a lot of Chinese scrolls and carvings plus a lot of contemporary New Zealand art." Chapman-Smith has a design and fine arts background. He graduated from Unitec with a Bachelor of Design majoring in graphic design and now runs a graphic design business call Fuman based in Auckland city. When: 12-26 October 2007 Where: Letham Gallery, 35 Jervois Road, Ponsonby, Auckland 1/10/07

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