Publication:

Nelson Mail - 2021-11-26

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Stepping stone to artist’s life

Culture

Vanessa Phillips

Three years ago Nelson woman Kirsten Cooper knew nothing about painting, but now she’s won a top art award and is venturing forward as a visual artist. Cooper has been awarded the Jens Hansen Gold and Silversmith Excellence Award for BAM2021, the end of year exhibition by Bachelor of Arts and Media students at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology. Her work, titled Erratic Boulders – Out of Place, is a collection of paintings and graphic etchings inspired by the geomorphology or rocks and boulders. Life as a visual artist is a far cry from her background, which started off in science when she did a zoology and ecology degree, and then led on to working in the television industry. In the late 1990s and early 2000s Cooper was a writer for long-running soapopera Shortland Street, and for the past 16 years has been working on Rural Delivery, first as a producer and now as lead researcher and director. Her shift to being an arts student – which she has done while still working on Rural Delivery – happened after Cooper and her family moved from Auckland to Nelson three years ago. She’d always wanted to study art. ‘‘I didn’t know anything about painting when I started at NMIT,’’ she said. Although she’d initially enrolled to do just a one-year arts diploma, she enjoyed it so much she stayed and completed the three-year Bachelor of Arts Media programme. Her work Erratic Boulders – Out of Place was the culmination of being challenged to look at things around her differently, and explore what colour, shape and line does, Co oper said. The series features hand-painted works and graphic etchings. The 15 paintings are largely acrylic on plywood, with the paint applied to a paper called Rockstock, made from ground down waste stone. The six etchings are laser etched into Perspex. One of the pieces has an augmented reality aspect to it whereby people can access an app on their mobile phone which animates the artwork, Cooper said. She hoped to continue her graphic design and painting, while continuing to work on Rural Delivery. ‘‘I think anyone who works in the creative arts has to have more than one string to their bow,’’ she said. As well as winning the Excellence Award, Cooper was also one of three winners of the Nelson Suter Art Society Distinction Award for BAM2021, which would provide her with an exhibition opportunity next year, she said. BAM2021 is on show until December 5, 10am-3pm daily at NMIT’s G Block and G-Space Gallery in Nile St, Nelson.

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