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Legally-blind Cartoonist Leads Creative Kiwi Army

Legally-blind Cartoonist Leads Creative Kiwi Army

WHAKAPAPA: an art exhibition proving to Australians there is more to New Zealand than the All Blacks, Tolkien tourism and Flight of the Conchords.

BRENT HARPUR is a legally-blind, New Zealand born cartoonist, art teacher and entertainer. To celebrate his second year living and working in Melbourne, Brent is curating Whakapapa, an exhibition bringing together the culturally-diverse works of sixteen NZ artists. This will be the first time many of these artists have exhibited and performed their work in Australia.

All Kiwi Art will be taking over the entirety of Melbourne City Library in Flinders Lane, not just the usual first floor gallery space.

“I'm thankful to the trusting librarians for allowing my creative Kiwi army to invade their walls, floors and shelves. They have no idea what they're in for”, says Brent.

There will be a wide range of art on show. Brent has been planning Whakapapa for two years, ever since he first arrived and called Melbourne home. Brent first visited (and fell in love with) Melbourne as a young art student, when in the early 90's he came to see a Vincent van Gogh exhibition at the National Gallery.

On display in Brent's show will be every kind of art imaginable. From paintings, street art, jewellery (including rings, brooches and adornment art), sculpture, bronze-casting, photography, prints, cartoons/comic book art (including the work of a ten year-old boy), performance art/dance and some very special indigenous Maori art.

“There will be something for everyone - the work of these artists continues to surprise, challenge and delight me. I admire and love what they create back home and I want to share it with Melbourne,” continues Brent.

Whakapapa will open on Thursday, 4 July, from 5pm. As well as the usual art opening fare, there will be a wide range of free entertainment, including music by Tash Sultana, The Weeping Willows, Since We Kissed and Micha, a new dance work from Virginia Kennard, hooping by Casey Sol and poetry by Scottish-born John McKelvie.

Comedian and Darebin Greens Councillor Trent McCarthy will open the show at 6pm, and Brent will draw free caricatures throughout the evening. All welcome!

WHAKAPAPA: A Group Exhibition of Sixteen Kiwi Artists from Aotearoa New Zealand, 4-29 July, Melbourne City Library Gallery, 253 Flinders Lane, Melbourne. Opening: Thursday 4th July, 5pm- 8pm.


One of the sixteen artists is Clinton Bopp. Originally from Lower Hutt (near Wellington), Clinton has been living and working as a “street artist and muralist” in Los Angeles since the mid 90's. During the month long exhibition, he will be working in Melbourne, “painting on anything I can find, from recycled wood to discarded furniture, even footwear”. He'll also paint a mural within the City Library building itself. This will be created on two windows in full view of (and overlooking) the cafes and bars in Flinders Lane below. “It's not very often” says Brent “that you can view a mural from two different sides of the surface it's being created on. It'll be magical to watch it being painted from either inside the library or outside (looking up) from the busy streets and lane-ways.”

For more about Clinton and his City Library mural:

Another exciting and very different addition to the hand-picked line-up of visual art will be the very talented and versatile Virginia Kennard; a self-proclaimed performance artist and choreographer. At designated times during library open hours throughout July, Virginia will be moving/dancing/improvising in the gallery space amongst the exhibition. She will interact with the environment and people in it. She has created a special piece for her Melbourne performance debut entitled: Chocolate Soup.

For more about Virginia :

Also showing during the Whakapapa season (4-31 July) will be the short film “Scatter Joy” about Brent's work here in Melbourne as a legally blind cartoonist. This 28 minute documentary was directed by local independent film-maker Amy Hoogenboom during 2012. This will be its Premiere showing here in Melbourne.

For more about Scatter Joy:


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