Mystery teen artist among ‘Creative Break’ winners

5 March 2012

An unidentified teen artist has taken out one of the three grand prizes in New Zealand Post’s nationwide Creative Break contest

The contest – part of New Zealand Post’s role as a ‘gold sponsor’ of the New Zealand International Arts Festival - saw hundreds of teens from throughout New Zealand entering their paintings, songs, poems, sculptures, computer art and photography via a dedicated “Creative Break” Facebook page.

The Judges - singer/songwriter Maisey Rika, contemporary artist Michel Tuffery, New Zealand International Arts Festival Artistic Director Lissa Twomey, and master glass artist Katie Brown – sorted through around 500 entries to select the three winners.

But one of the winners is proving elusive – and may miss out on their prize. “All that we know about this artist is that he or she is from Auckland - goes by the name of “Coal” - and is 15 years old,” New Zealand Post’s head of sponsorship Nicola Airey says.

“Coal’s entry was a tapas cloth, which they painted over a two day period.

But that’s where the trail goes cold. We’ve been messaging and emailing Coal for the past week but have had no response.

“Beyond that it’s all detective work – we believe ‘Coal” may be the person pictured in the attached image with the tapas cloth - and based on their email address they may have ties to Niue.

“It’s thought the person painted on the tapas cloth may be the Premier of Niue - Toke Talagi – but without any contact from Coal we’re unable to say for sure.

“It’s a real humdinger of a mystery, and we hope Coal gets in contact with us soon so she can claim her prize,” Nicola Airey said – urging the unknown teen to revisit the Facebook page.

Each of the three winners receives a trip to Wellington – including flights and accommodation - to see some of the best the New Zealand International Arts Festival has to offer. That includes a dress rehearsal for Peter & the Wolf, a Writers & Readers workshop, seeing the spectacular Circenses show and a visit to Michael Tuffery's "First Contact" artwork at Te Papa. The winners will also be feted at a special event at the Michael Fowler Centre, hosted by New Zealand Post.

The other two, equally talented, Creative Break winners are:

17 year old Elliot Gonzales, a Year 13 student at Freyberg High School in Palmerston North was recognised for his amazingly detailed ink on paper creations. His two Creative Break entries have a slight retro flavour - reminiscent of underground comic art of the 1960s and 70s - but they also have a fresh modern sensibility and a variety of unique flourishes which are 100 percent Elliot. That's no coincidence - Elliot is exploring his artistic side and combines methods both old (artline pen on paper) and new (on-screen image manipulation) to create fresh works of art.

Elliot has many creative friends and relations (including family members who work as, respectively, a 3D animator and a film producer) and he plans to take his own creativity to a new level after his final year at school with a course in illustration or animation, most likely via Massey.

It's hard to define Elliot's art - but that suits him fine, as he doesn't like to label his art. "When I draw stuff it just comes out - I don't really focus on styles or specific techniques, it just happens," he explains. The fact his works "just happen" to be so good makes him a deserving winner.

17 year old Indi Force - a Year 13 student at ACG Senior College in Auckland – was recognised by the judges for her prowess in two creative fields - music and visual arts. Indi pays credit to her family for fostering her involvement in the arts from an early age – she’s been playing piano for nearly half her life, and her father still regularly cranks up the stereo to expose her to new musical genres and recording artists.

Indi name checks a diverse range of artists – including Regina Spektor, Kate Nash, Lily Allen and Foster the People - as current influences on her music. But she is crafting her own unique musical landscape – with every sound on her recordings originating from her voice or her trusty keyboard. It’s approachable yet intelligent music, which would sit comfortably alongside any of the current leading ‘indie’ singer/songwriters who have served as her inspiration. Visual arts are another important outlet for her creative skills (see attached example).

Indi’s plans for the future? Finish school, attend Art College, and perhaps find a band - if she can locate other keen musos with compatible musical tastes. And, of course, enjoying her prize, a trip to the International Arts Festival in Wellington courtesy of New Zealand Post.