Poetry in a New Light

By Sarah Catherall

Take one of New Zealand’s best-known artists and pair him up with one of our iconic poets and the result is a range of unique artworks that celebrate both their talents.


Since splashing Sam Hunt’s poems over canvas, Dick Frizzell is now moved to tears when he reads his new friend’s poems, which is an interesting confession for an expressionist pop artist who admits he’s never been keen on poetry.


“I avoided it at school. I always thought, ‘Poetry, poetry, what the f… is poetry’?,” he laughs.”But I’ve been converted to Sam’s poetry. It’s funny, when you spend a lot of time working with them, I can now hardly quote them without choking. They are so profound.”


Frizzell’s light-filled studio on the edge of the Haumoana shoreline is filled with art and graphic design books rather than literature.


But the Hawke’s Bay painter pulls out one book that has consumed many of his hours over the past year – a complete collection of Hunt’s poems. Frizzell has always been restless to produce new works and to challenge himself with new projects, and when The Dominion Post visited his home, the result of that energy graced his studio walls. An exhibition of Frizzell’s efforts, Painting the Hunt, has just begun at Paige Blackie Gallery in Wellington.


But Frizzell and Hunt’s collaboration only came about by chance. About three years ago, an advertising agency approached the artist about creating a new Kiwi icon for giant billboards similar to Frizzell’s famous Four Square man.


That idea didn’t take off, until one of the creatives came up with the idea of Frizzell painting a Hunt poem. Frizzell was also keen to capture the Kiwi spirit, rather than an image.
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February 21, 2012
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