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Renown New Zealand Artist’s Life Goes On Line

02 September 2004

Renown New Zealand Artist’s Life Goes On Line

A website documenting and celebrating the life of the great New Zealand painter, Colin McCahon (1919-87), is set to go live this week.

The website, www.mccahonhouse.org.nz , documents one portion of McCahon’s rich career -the years from 1953 to 1960 - when McCahon lived in the hilly bush-suburb of Titirangi, by the Manukau Harbour, on the outskirts of Auckland city.

The Website is part of an overall project being coordinated by the McCahon House Trust, which was set up to preserve the small house in French Bay where the artist and his family lived. The project also incorporates the development of an artists’ studio and residency to be located adjacent to the family home.

Visitors to the website can learn about the activities of the Trust, including the restoration of the house and the conditions of the artist's residence, and also explore, through text and images, the vivid and powerful work — much of it directly stimulated by the immediate environment of beach and bush — that McCahon created during this vital period.

Executive Director of the McCahon House Trust Penny Dever says that the Trust is thrilled that the website is ready to be launched.

“It has been a culmination of work from so many people and we are delighted with the result. It gives a comprehensive picture on the work and life of McCahon, who has an ever-growing reputation across the world, and details about the project the Trust is carrying out in honour of his achievements,” said Ms Dever.

Along with the website, the project also includes the development of an Oral History for which 16 people have been recorded sharing their memories of the artist. Recordings are from friends, colleagues, contemporaries, students and family of McCahon.

In addition, a public interest recording will be produced for visitors to the restored house, or the website, to listen to. It will focus on the personal life of the McCahon family centred around the house in Titirangi and McCahon’s work of that period and will use sound-bites from the oral history recordings.

The house restoration work, which is partly funded by a SKYCITY Auckland Community Trust grant of $214,790 is currently in its first stage, where a secure foundation wall is being built under the house. The next step will involve removal of concrete from the deck before rebuilding it, with extreme care taken to ensure there is no damage done to the original fabric of the house. It is expected that all restoration work will be complete by the end of 2004.

Penny Dever says that the project has great significance in the arts’ community and is important to the local, regional and national development of New Zealand’s cultural identity.

“The restoration will enable visitors to learn more about the artist and experience first-hand his working conditions and inspirations of that significant period of his career. It also offers a rare chance to preserve, for public interest, a typical Titirangi house of that period.

“As McCahon has an international following, it is believed that the house will be of interest both to visitors from overseas and New Zealanders and will be actively promoted by Waitakere City Council as part of their cultural tourism development programme,” said Ms Dever.

Coinciding with the restoration, an artists’ residency comprising a studio and two bedroom accommodation will be built next to the old family house and will be designed to enable select national and international artists to live and work in the environment that influenced Colin McCahon, with up to three residencies offered annually. Work on this facility will commence early 2005.

The SKYCITY Auckland Community Trust was voluntarily established in 1996, as part of SKYCITY Auckland’s casino licence application process, to provide funds for community and charitable purposes. The Trust has, to date, distributed over $15 million in grants to the community and charitable purposes. This year in June, the Trust distributed its largest funding amount to date ($3 million) to 113 successful applicants, through its ninth funding round.

Funds available for distribution are 2.5% of the net annual profit from SKYCITY Auckland or a minimum of $500,000 per annum.

ENDS

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