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Famous face portrait artist to exhibit at airport

                              Media release – September 24, 2009


Opening tomorrow of NZ’s biggest famous face portrait artist to exhibit at Queenstown Airport

By Kip Brook

What do jeweller Michael Hadlee, cricketer Richard Hadlee, equestrian rider Mark Todd and bungy jumper AJ Hackett all have in common? They are among 11 famous names in a rare first big portrait art exhibition opening at Queenstown Airport Terminal tomorrow night.

The big close-up paintings are by Cromwell’s award-winning artist Deidre Copeland who just recently gave birth to her second child. Deidre had all the works completed just before she went into labour.

The exhibition features 11 of New Zealand’s notable New Zealanders. They include mayor Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt, former Stock Exchange chairman and NZ Olympic president Eion Edgar, world hall of fame cricketer Richard Hadlee, double equestrian Olympic gold medallist Mark Todd, Queenstown mayor Clive Geddes, bungy inventor AJ Hackett, Everest climber and top expedition leader Guy Cotter, winemaker Alan Brady, businessman and entrepreneur Michael Hill, writer Owen Marshall and speaker-entertainer Gary McCormick. They are all South Islanders.
Copeland never does things by halves. Her paintings are so ‘in your face’ that they reflect a lot about a person’s life. Just before Christmas, on a flight from Queenstown to Tauranga, Deidre arranged for the captain of the plane to ask her builder partner Jase if he'd marry her. The answer was yes and the plane went wild. A month later, Copeland won the Aspiring Award – the top South island art prize.
The mum of two has no idea if this exhibition will be her most successful yet but it will certainly be the most viewed with more than 1.4 million people moving through the airport terminal every year.
``I strive to make my next painting better than the last. I know I have done a good one when I kind of fall in love it with it and can’t stop looking at it.

``I usually paint local characters but I really wanted a big challenge for something like this. I wanted to capture a real likeness for these 11 guys. I have a great deal of respect for these people who have contributed a lot to making NZ a better and more interesting place. My manager contacted most of these people and away I went.’’

Copeland has tried to steer away from the traditional style of portrait. There are little messages and interesting stories woven into details on the canvas. In some portraits they are theatrical and others more restful. Each one is a tribute to that person; how Copeland sees them or a moment in time that she felt needed to be portrayed.

She enjoyed meeting such a variety of different but positive achievers with great talent who all gave up their time to be painted. Copeland cleverly balances her life, her family and her art. She will take a small break after the exhibition then refocus on a bigger project. And possibly a series of women.



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