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tony's art fusion

From Habitat magazine - issue 26, autumn/winter 2017

Artist Tony Harrington gets creative with recycled timber and Resene testpots.

Hawke’s Bay artist Tony Harrington combines repurposed demolition timber, Resene testpots and talent to create stunning artworks. He also combines Maori and Pakeha cultures to depict a nostalgic and truly local perspective.

Tony’s passion for working with his hands – building and creating as well as painting – led him to work primarily with wood rather than paper. Repurposing demolition timbers means his ‘canvas’ doesn’t always start out blank.

Tony’s passion for working with his hands – building and creating as well as painting – led him to work primarily with wood rather than paper. Repurposing demolition timbers means his ‘canvas’ doesn’t always start out blank. Remnants of paint left behind inspire him about what has been before, and provide added depth and layers to his art. “These works carry with them literal and conceptual stories of the past combined with current day references to living in bicultural Aotearoa,” says Tony.

Tony Harringon artist
Artist Tony Harrington with his tiki creation.

Atop his wooden canvas Tony adds layers of beautiful and intricate patterns and images. “I always use Resene paints because of the very broad spectrum of colours that are readily available,” he explains. “Over the years I have experimented with various paints, mixing and trying new colourways. These days I prefer to go straight down to my local Resene store and pick out the exact colour I need, no fuss, and get straight into creating.”

Harrington draws inspiration from many sources, and with a keen interest in typography, he often includes words from pop culture and songs into his art. “I am inspired on a daily basis by what I am experiencing in my environment, what I am reading, listening to, and just being,” says Tony. He’s also inspired by fellow New Zealand artists such as Shane Cotton, Colin McCahon and Dick Frizzell. Urban and graffiti art have always intrigued him and they too have a major influence on his work.

Tony’s love of art began young, and although a high school teacher encouraged him to pursue a career in art, it wasn’t until after some years of travelling and working that he enrolled at the Eastern Institute of Technology to study for a Bachelor of Visual Art and Design majoring in 3D design and furniture design. He graduated in 2004.

A number of galleries throughout New Zealand carry Tony’s work, including The Poi Room, Moko Artspace, Kura Gallery, and A+E Gallery. His own studio, The View Room at 186 Kennedy Road, Napier, is available to visit by appointment. Once a small sleep-out at the back of his house, Tony has transformed the space with the help of a builder friend. The studio allows him to showcase and circulate a variety of pieces, while also giving visitors a glimpse into his own Kiwi lifestyle.

Tony Harrington artwork
More of Tony’s artwork where he uses recycled timber and Resene paint.

For more of Tony’s work, see

Words: Vic Bibby
Pictures: Tim Whittaker

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