Charcoal and words the people’s choice

RAW ART: A block of text, and a charcoal rubbing of a carved design on a picnic table top that once stood at Waikanae Beach, won the people’s choice category in the 2018 Te Ha Art Awards. Picture by Liam Clayton

The fine line between vandalism and street art, cultural appropriateness, and cultural appropriation, were among ideas behind Mark Peters’ submission that won the people’s choice category in the 2018 Te Ha Art Awards.

Peters explored the theme of this year’s award, tuia te muka tangata, weaving together the threads of humanity, in a charcoal rubbing taken from carved design on a picnic table top at Waikanae Beach.

The design featured a carved mask with a split-plum left eye and skewed face from which whorled lines spiralled out. A block of text that accompanied the untitled rubbing expressed the concept Peters explored in the raw work on newsprint and customboard.

Peters was intrigued by the carved table-top that “suggested to me issues on the part of the artist.”

“The distorted face and bulbous eye, and the whorls of line above it, suggested the carver had spent much time at the work,” says Peters in the text.

“The notion a troubled mind was behind it was enhanced by the vein-like wriggle from the corner of the swollen eye, to and from the black hole.

“Maybe that view was entirely wrong. Maybe the artist worked the design of the face around the seam and knot in the timber. But the fact the carving was made in a picnic table top people eat off, sit on and leave cigarette butts in; the face stared forever at the sky and was glared upon by the sun and whipped by rain and wind, and the notion artists don’t always see what’s in their art, spoke of a rawness, not just in the material but the talented vandal’s heart.”

Peters walked along the beach most days and always stopped to look at the table top, clear the carving of take-away debris and cigarette butts.

“I made a charcoal rubbing of the top. But doing that raised in my mind the question of cultural appropriation. On the other hand, the carving trod a fine line between vandalism and art brut.

“Art brut. What I saw in the work I saw through European eyes. But if anyone else carved into the table top — and others had — or set fire to it — could happen — at least the artwork was recorded in a raw frottage.”

After the Gisborne District Council removed the table the charcoal rubbing was all that remained of it.

“I wanted my piece to stay true to the rawness in the original,” says Peters.

“For me, my art is in the ideas, the story, in the text alongside the work.

“I’ve had great feedback about it. Many thanks to everyone who voted for it.”

Peters is also grateful to Professor Jack Richards for the $2000 prize.

“Gisborne is lucky to have such a supportive arts patron.”

The fine line between vandalism and street art, cultural appropriateness, and cultural appropriation, were among ideas behind Mark Peters’ submission that won the people’s choice category in the 2018 Te Ha Art Awards.

Peters explored the theme of this year’s award, tuia te muka tangata, weaving together the threads of humanity, in a charcoal rubbing taken from carved design on a picnic table top at Waikanae Beach.

The design featured a carved mask with a split-plum left eye and skewed face from which whorled lines spiralled out. A block of text that accompanied the untitled rubbing expressed the concept Peters explored in the raw work on newsprint and customboard.

Peters was intrigued by the carved table-top that “suggested to me issues on the part of the artist.”

“The distorted face and bulbous eye, and the whorls of line above it, suggested the carver had spent much time at the work,” says Peters in the text.

“The notion a troubled mind was behind it was enhanced by the vein-like wriggle from the corner of the swollen eye, to and from the black hole.

“Maybe that view was entirely wrong. Maybe the artist worked the design of the face around the seam and knot in the timber. But the fact the carving was made in a picnic table top people eat off, sit on and leave cigarette butts in; the face stared forever at the sky and was glared upon by the sun and whipped by rain and wind, and the notion artists don’t always see what’s in their art, spoke of a rawness, not just in the material but the talented vandal’s heart.”

Peters walked along the beach most days and always stopped to look at the table top, clear the carving of take-away debris and cigarette butts.

“I made a charcoal rubbing of the top. But doing that raised in my mind the question of cultural appropriation. On the other hand, the carving trod a fine line between vandalism and art brut.

“Art brut. What I saw in the work I saw through European eyes. But if anyone else carved into the table top — and others had — or set fire to it — could happen — at least the artwork was recorded in a raw frottage.”

After the Gisborne District Council removed the table the charcoal rubbing was all that remained of it.

“I wanted my piece to stay true to the rawness in the original,” says Peters.

“For me, my art is in the ideas, the story, in the text alongside the work.

“I’ve had great feedback about it. Many thanks to everyone who voted for it.”

Peters is also grateful to Professor Jack Richards for the $2000 prize.

“Gisborne is lucky to have such a supportive arts patron.”

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