Cardboard is my favourite canvas. It has an energy and a story all of its own. Imagine!
It was once a tree and it travelled from the forest to the paper mill where it underwent a strenuous metamorphosis by chemicals, water and fire to be reborn as cardboard.
The tree was once a seed, a seedling before that, and an idea in God’s mind long before that. Its DNA can be found in the cardboard.
Anyway, the ream of paper made from the pulped tree found its way into an office in Wellington where it was stamped with an IRD logo and sent out as a final reminder for payment to a struggling couple in Ranui in Auckland’s working class western suburbs. They borrowed from friends and sent the payment reminder back to Wellington, paid in full.
Helen Clark, then Prime Minister, had made an edict that all Government departments are actively recycling, so the reminder was photocopied and filed. It was imprisoned in the archives for seven years when as paper it was sent off for recycling in Tauranga.
The piece of paper, considerably munched up, became a piece of cardboard. It was sent off to Korea where it was die-cut, stamped, and filled with a TV set. That set found its way back to the Warehouse chain of stores. It was sold in Rotorua, not far from Kaingaroa Forest where it was once a tree. A Maori family took it home to Ngongataha where they had trouble with it, so they returned it to the store. The TV and box were returned to Auckland where the fault was found to be minor. The box was repackaged with the TV and it was sent to a sale in the electronics store of the Warehouse in Johnsonville.
I was in the store buying brushes and gesso. I wanted to paint on cardboard so I asked the checkout man if I could get some cardboard from their dump bin behind the store. He told me that was fine so I climbed into the bin and selected some pieces of cardboard.
When I got back to the Heath Street Flats in Johnsonville I took a piece of the much traveled television box and started to paint. I imagined a New Zealand hill with rocky tops and cloud forming above it. I saw a woman (about the size of my partner Ms P) reclined on a bed, painted a few quick black strokes, and voila, Renoir Cloud.
Gesso, oil and acrylic on cardboard (framed by the artist), 2008