Con Kiernan

      This native tree grows wildly in Matheson Bay, Northland, New Zealand and the people commissioning this 2.8metre x1metre piece of art wanted to celebrate this native flora with ‘huge’ flowers and have the piece spread across their beautiful garden. The flowers range between 800mm and 600mm diameter, and each needed two people to be lifted onto the main frame. Very dramatic job and image. Glass and tile.
      This art piece was created to commemorate a flood in 1981 that destroyed the local footbridge and houses and businesses along the river bank at Waikino where I live. A committee was established to firstly build a new Bridge (behind the wall in the photo. My wife had a new bridge funded and built with the later intention of funding a Memorial Artwall.
I got to manage the wall and Diane’s funding included six commissioned artists from the area, each given a theme to be developed in their own style; Three were mosaic artists, one a sculptor in stone, another in concrete and a potter for the sixth theme. My piece is the one on the right pointing to the future of the Karangahake gorge. I did mine with Shona Laing who wrote and sang the internationally famous song “Who’d be a Kennedy”. 8 metres long x twin block walls 2.4metres high with a 2 tonne wheel in the centre from Waikino’s industrial past. I got to work with local District Council, builders, engineers, commercial tilers, and a gold medal winner at Chelsea Flower Show for the garden. Collaboration with artists included my need to mosaic the Ohinemuri river through each of the pieces of art to link them together. Took about 6 months to build and place artwork.
      The 100th anniversary of Sister Janet Erskine Stuart’s death in Britain, then Mother Superior of the Sacred Heart Sisters, warranted this mosaic commission and had to reflect the ideas of Baradene College girls. The imagery reflects their views of the nature of education at Baradene, what it means now and how it will affect their future lives. They also helped place some of the materials, especially in the centre piece of the triptych. 5 metres long x 1.5 metres depth in triptych form. 6 months work in 2 x 3month intervals.
      Native flora again. This was the third piece I did; when I finished the basic art and before grouting I was in total disillusionment about what I had done. I didn’t think it was that good, looked very basic and lots of craters between glass and tiles. Then I grouted the piece and I couldn’t have been more surprised with the result. I was astounded; and it has become one of my favourite pieces. It is 1200mm square with a copper frame.
It has been on show in the foyer area of the Fay Richwhite building in Auckland but removed after 2 years when a promised rental by the building managers was not forthcoming. Oh get things in writing, Kiernan.
      This piece won the New Zealand National Contemporary Mosaic Exhibition in 2013 at Pataka Gallery in Wellington. The theme relates to the fact that many young people can no longer experience job satisfaction because they either cannot get jobs at all, or have to get casual jobs that offer very little future; even university educated people find that getting a job is not a given in the 'modern' climate of economic activity. They are becoming part of the 'price of inequality'. Therefore many will say: Y BOTHA. 800mm x 600mm; glass tiles and pebbles; steel frame.