Recycled artist Simon Shepheard swapped his Elam lectureship for a motor home and headed north with a pile of found objects. Camping on the edge of his favourite surfing spots he painted outside over two years with his wife and toddler on board.
The results can be seen in a space he rehabilitated upstairs on the forgotten mezzanine of the classic St. Kevins Arcade, Karangahape Rd. Landscapes are embedded into chair backs, a chilly bin lid, an old perforated vent, a leather suitcase lid - any tasty morsel left over from the 20th century.
"Its like I stage an intervention at the last minute of an objects' life - I'm always panning for gold in dangerous and unpredictable rivers of junk" says Shepheard.
The rescued items are cleaned and filed at home. Later they are matched with a suitable landscape spotted on reconnaissance in the motor home.
"I'll return with the right 'support' to an area I'm interested in and stay a few days - not leaving until I nail the composition."
He stresses they are really a collaboration with the nature of a particular material where the subject is implicated.
In 'Light Supper' the ocean-like metallic blue of a dinner tray hosts a rocky little island from a still morning in Whananaki. Or the swirling grooves of an oval velvet chair back becomes a mangrove estuary in 'Wounded River'. The patina of an antique well lid supports a pururi stump in 'Pururicide' and in 'Two Voice' the portrait of a tui is pixelated when rendered onto a rusty vintage vent.
For 30 years Simon Shepheard has explored the opportunities presented by these discarded histories and built art "from all sorts of things in all sorts of environments."
The 50 year old opines "As a kid I loved and lived in these landscapes, but when I got older, I realized many of these places were sick or threatened. Painting them has been cathartic by reconciling a kind of joyful nostalgia with that sadder knowledge."