23 March 2014

The 2014 Whittaker’s Big Egg Hunt: Auckland, part 1

The Big Egg Hunt idea was hatched in the UK back in 2010, as a way for charities to raise much-needed funds. Leading artists decorated giant eggs, which were then strategically placed around several cities for the public to hunt down. Prizes were awarded for those who discovered them all, sponsors supported both the artists and the hunt itself, and the eggs were later auctioned off, with the whole resulting in a fun eggstravanza that successfully fundraised hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The idea has now come to New Zealand, with Whittaker’s the chocolate makers as the major sponsor, with 100 artists and designers turning their eggs into unique creations, and the resulting masterpieces being hidden in the inner-city streets of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. The recipient of the fundraising is the Starship Foundation, supporting child health and medical care at Auckland’s Starship Hospital.

Whittaker’s is donating at least $150,000 to Starship via the sales of their delicious chocolate products, and the eggs will be auctioned, with 80 to be sold to the highest bidders on Trade Me and the other 20 to be sold at a gala event in April.

Auckland has 46 of the giant eggs so, of course, I intend to hunt them all down. A two-hour walk this morning resulted in 23 eggs located and photographed. The other 23 will follow in a second blog.

6 Bev Goodwin, Marie Antoinette
Bev Goodwin studied fine arts in Italy and 3D design at Unitec, and has since become a curator, a graphic designer and a multimedia artist, with her works appearing in exhibitions in New Zealand and Australia, as well as France, China and the United States. It was sheer coincidence that an Asian woman was practising Tai Chi in the background when I took this photo.

7 Brad Novak, Reservoir Birds for Starship
Brad Novak is an internationally recognised New Zealand urban pop artist, based in Auckland. His inspiration comes both from his everyday life and his medical studies as a public health doctor, and he is heavily influenced by New Zealand iconography (particularly, New Zealand birds like the Kiwi, Whio, Shag, Tui, Huia and Albatross) and by vintage pop artists like Richard Hamilton, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol.

8 Chiara Corbelletto, Egg Shelter
I first became aware of Italian-born Chiara Corbelletto from her works in the University of Auckland collection and in Auckland Domain. She has an extensive record of exhibitions, sculptural installations, and public art commissions, her artworks have been integrated into architectural projects, and she is well represented in both public and private collections.

11 Cinzah Seekayem, Duality
Cinzah Seekayem is an Auckland-based artist, illustrator and self-described ‘professional mess maker’. His work ranges from intricate drawings through to digital illustration and large scale murals, with ideas drawn from childhood nostalgia, daydreaming, nature, travel and studies of slightly deranged city folk. His works have been exhibited in numerous exhibitions throughout New Zealand, Australia, Japan, South East Asia and the USA.


16 David McCracken, Life x Volume Waiting
David McCracken began sculpting in his teens, mostly figurative work carved in wood. Returning to Auckland in his early 20s he worked in a variety of jobs including boat building and construction and gained skills using fibre and later steel fabrication and welding. His ‘stairway to nowhere’ sculptures are stunning but I’m afraid I found this football-style egg rather uninspiring.


17 Dean Proudfoot, Yesteryear's Egg
This egg, located in Aotea Square, is delightful, and I imagine it’s a favourite with young and old alike. Not surprisingly, Dean Proudfoot likes to evoke nostalgia of the yesteryears and much of his recent work references the imagery of the 1950s and 1960s. I’m not surprised to learn that his work is favoured by public and private collectors.


18 World featuring Pebbles Hooper, Fashion Eggs
With the founders of WORLD clothing, Denise L’Estrange-Corbet and Francis Hooper, as parents, it’s no surprise that Pebbles (were her parents fans of The Flinstones?) Hooper is an artist. WORLD is well-known for its philanthropic charity work and has worked with the Starship Foundation for more than a decade, so it’s also no surprise that they are participating in The Big Egg Hunt. Can you identify the fashion faces on Pebbles’ egg?

20 Dick Frizzell, Fresh Eggs
While I didn’t recognise any of those fashion faces in the previous work, I found the decoration on this egg easy to identify. Born in Auckland in 1943, Dick Frizzell is almost a household name in New Zealand. Frizzell’s artistic journey has taken him from art student at Ilam in Christchurch to artist in the world of advertising to teacher at Auckland’s Elam Art School to full-time professional artist.

27 Gidon Bing, Untitled
There is something timeless about this work by Auckland-based sculptor and painter Gidon Bing. To me, the clean lines of this work have a distinctly oriental feel, though the bend in the nose is decidedly contemporary and the fabric of the piece feels almost luxurious. The Big Egg Hunt website says Bing’s work is ‘driven by the simple pleasure of working with organic materials and [his] love of essential, expressive and pure forms’. This has a very strong appeal for me.

34 I Love Ugly, Chalked Egg
Apparently, ‘I Love Ugly is a small group of like-minded people brought together by their love of art, fashion, industrial design and music.’ The company offers premium menswear clothing and fashion accessories from its store in Mt Eden, from a retail concession at The Department Store and a retail outlet in Wellington. I haven’t seen their clothing but their egg seems … well, rather ordinary.

38 Jillian Friedlander, Seven Sisters
I don’t know whether the artists and designers involved in this project knew where their pieces would be exhibited but, to me, this artwork would be so much better situated in an inside setting. The glossy finish means the lovely detail in its decoration is easily overlooked and difficult to appreciate in the harsh New Zealand sun. On the positive side, the artist plays a significant role on the board of the Friedlander Foundation, a philanthropic foundation that has made generous contributions to the arts, education and medical research over the past four decades. Well done them!


50 Kelly Gammie, The Moa and The Egg
The artist speaks: ‘Interpreting “the chicken or the egg” question from a relevant New Zealand perspective, I ask, was the moa or the egg the last of its species? The egg which so often represents birth, life and beginning is seen within this question as a much darker icon. A fragile protector of life, the egg was extremely vulnerable to new predators and hence a predominant factor in the cause of their extinction. Skeletal representations were chosen, as with many of these birds, it is the only evidence of their existence and although painted, I wanted my finished egg to allude to the illustrative style of early scientific etchings.’

57 Max Gimblett, World Egg
As will be obvious, this egg sits behind a plate-glass window in a gallery, which was not open when I was out hunting. I actually quite like the building and tree reflections this produced and the juxtaposition with the other artwork on the wall. Born in 1935 in Auckland, Max Gimblett has been living and working in New York City, USA since 1972, but continues to exhibit regularly in both locations. He is a prominent New Zealand painter, who became one of the first New Zealanders to be exhibited in the Guggenheim in New York.

59 Michel Tuffery, Hundreds and Thousands
I love this egg! I love its rainbow colours, I love its tactile qualities, I love the setting – all that plate glass and the living wall of plants. It reminds me of M and Ms and so I want to eat it – and I’m sure it has that effect on many people, especially the younger generation. It makes me smile. So, thank you Michel Tuffery, for setting aside your artistic pretensions and bringing alive the spirit of this Big Egg Hunt – chocolate and fun for all, in support of New Zealand’s children.

64 Otis Frizzell, Dia De Los Huevos
I also really like this egg by relative youngster Otis, son of Dick Frizzell. Many Kiwis will not understand how it plays on the Latin American celebration of the Day of the Dead, when families come together to celebrate and remember lost family and friends. The markings on the egg are reminiscent of Mexican death masks, and the egg is appropriately set in front of the vibrantly coloured panels of the Silo Quarter on Auckland’s waterfront.

75 Sally Smith, The Journey
This work is also a favourite of mine, for the deceptive simplicity of its design and for its message. Artist Sally, a former architect, now Waiheke Islander says: ‘I celebrate Tamaki Makau Rau (Auckland) and the Hauraki Gulf in this work by depicting the sea journey taken between my home island Waiheke and the Auckland CBD. The view from both starboard and port is shown. These waters of the Hauraki Gulf – Tikapa and the islands that dot its surface like the floats of a fishing net are a treasure that need to be taken care of to ensure they are healthy for our future generations to enjoy and use in a meaningful way.’


81 Simon James, Patchwork
It is immediately obvious to me that Simon James is working in a medium he loves – his egg displays such attention to detail that it should come as no surprise that he is a New Zealand-based designer committed to developing and producing innovative contemporary furniture. His work has been exhibited in a number of cities including Toyko, New York and Milan.

84 Component – Sparrow Phillips, Pattern Perception
From the website: ‘Based in Auckland, Component is a DJ, a father, and a self-taught artist working closely with the Auckland community. Component’s work encapsulates the cultural melting pot found in New Zealand. He explores “everything from fallen hip hop legends to the Queen, to deeply political critiques on censorship and conformity”.’ I see an egg with some spiral designs on it … and apologise for my ignorance.

88 Trelise Cooper, Fleur de Filigree
Trelise Cooper is another household name in New Zealand. She started her fashion business in 1985 and has since branched out into jewellery, perfume, furniture, and the design of various other household items – I have a bedspread from her range (bought on sale, I hasten to add, as she is expensive!). I sometimes think that designers sacrifice the practical for the aesthetic and I think this egg is a good example of that. It sits in the window of one of Trelise’s stores, yet its filigree design means it is eclipsed by the external items reflected in that window.

91 Virginia Leonard, Anastasia
This is another example of an egg in a poor location. Virginia Leonard has a Masters of Fine Arts from Whitecliffe College of Arts, has participated in various group and solo exhibitions, was a finalist in the 2013 Wallace Art Awards and the Waikato Painting and Printmaking Art Awards, and has recently won the highly acclaimed Molly Morpath Award. There is a wonderfully sensuous feel to her decoration of this egg but its setting in the Viaduct Events Centre makes it difficult to appreciate.

93 Ingrid Boot, Ellen Mary
Boot, an Englander who emigrated to New Zealand in 2000, is inspired by her love of fashion history and movie icons of a bygone era. Her works supposedly ‘portray the beauty of the female form with a stylised realism developing intrigue and character’. I found the red roses, bottle of Chanel, beautiful woman and tightly strung bodice rather cliché and not a little dated. However, do look for the tiny camouflaged lizard that is her trademark signature.


95 Flux, Monstar Egg
Little Monstar comes from the Flux Animation Studios, which were established in 1997 in a basement in the Auckland suburb of Grey Lynn. From those humble beginnings, Flux has gone on to produce 20 original concept series for TVNZ, it has pioneered international animation in New Zealand and has produced short films that have featured in festivals around the world. Its Little Monstar is a real cutie!


98 Jun Arita, Never Give Up
Japanese artist and graphic designer Jun Arita currently lives in New Zealand. His work draws its influences from pop art, from traditional Japanese art and from Kanji (the Chinese characters used in Japanese writing), as well as from graffiti. His cherished motto, ‘Never give up!’, is painted on one side of this wonderfully colourful egg.

Note: much of the information about these works has been adapted from the official website. The opinions, of course, are entirely my own.