When I first heard talk of the North Shore Salon, it was mentioned in revered voices and hushed tones. Colloquially referred to as “the salon”, this photographic competition has the reputation of being judged at a very high level and most photographers I have spoken to have felt very honoured to have even received an acceptance. Then, out of the blue, the outgoing chairman, John Parry, invited me to take over the reins and steer the 22nd edition of this prestigious event through 2016. So for the past several months, I have had the pleasure of witnessing the salon, from soup to nuts, from a unique point of view as chairman. Besides being plunged into a crash course on learning the ins and outs of the event, I was also afforded the opportunity of being a part of and experience every aspect of the salon.
With a long and illustrious history, the visionaries of the North Shore Photographic Society started the salon in 1995, attracting 308 entries. As with most events of this nature, there is a virtual army of volunteers from the NSPS who pop up when requested, do their jobs with a sense of pride and joy and then go back to their busy lives. This willingness to share the load lightens the burden on the small steering committee made up of members of the North Shore Photographic Society.
An impressive 2104 entries were received from 256 New Zealand photographers into the eight categories which stacked up as follows; 217 – Digital Street, 237 – Digital Action, 318 – Digital Abstract, 693 – Digital Open, 91 – Print Impressionist, 141 – Print ‘scapes, 138 – Print People and 215 – Print Open. Judging day saw these magnificent images on display in all their finery and swagger hoping to catch the eye of the judges and cracking the nod for a highly prised acceptance. Selecting the judges for the salon is always a challenging task of finding a balance between experience, genre preference and personality and this year proved no exception. The final line-up of six judges took to the task of weeding out the wannabes from the winners with a sense of purpose, casting their trained eyes over the rows and rows of prints or the digital pics flicking across the monitors. I witnessed the culling of many images that in my humble opinion were sure winners. But alas for these artists, their day was done. The judging team toiled all day over the task of selecting only the finest images; animated discussions for and against were witnessed over and over until only what was judged to be the finest remained. Finally it was the collective task of all six judges to decide on the champion image to be selected from the gold medal winners. This honour went to Bernie Velasco from Wellington for his image titled “Corona Extra Desperate”.
As a proud chairman, I would like to say to the people who continue to drive the salon to greater heights, you the photographers of New Zealand and the world, thank you for your efforts, creativity, ingenuity and artistic flare. Thank you for the early mornings, late evenings, pavement stalking, vigilance, solitary studio adventures and for lugging around tons of gear so you never miss a moment worth capturing and sharing. And thank you for the countless hours you spend in the digital darkroom, hunched over your monitor editing and perfecting your creations. Only you would know and appreciate what is required to take a simple idea and transform it into the awesome images we see around us. To the photographers that did not gain an acceptance into the salon, take inspiration from the images around you and from what you have learnt on your journey as encouragement in your efforts for next year. To the artists who did achieve an acceptance into the 22nd salon, I say well done. Let this be the springboard that propels you to even greater heights next year. Congratulations on your outstanding achievement. Please give a round of applause to our successful entrants.
And finally, may I add one more thank you to the list? It’s probably the most important acknowledgement and one that should be repeated by all photographers often. I say thank you to our families. Without your support we would not be able to do what we do. To the patient passengers waiting in the car while you take “just one more shot”, to the ever willing models, to getting home late because the light was going off, sneaking out of bed on a Sunday morning to spend time with your other love; and not to mention spending the annual holiday budget on a new piece of kit that you just have to have.
For more information and a full list of results, please visit the North Shore National Salon of Photography website at: www.northshoresalon.co.nz.
I first met Kristin when she breezed into my studio clutching a portfolio folder full of artworks she wanted to get copied and printed. While pouring over her work, it took me some time to realise that the exquisite images were made of thousands of dots, dots of all shapes, dots of all sizes, dots of all hues. My only point of reference was to imagine that the dots were like pixels in a photograph. I went along to Kristin’s studio to see if she was in deed going dotty.
JB: “Give me a little background to your beginnings in art and your training?”
KI: “I’ve always loved art. My mother was arty and my grandmother was quite crafty. She spun wool. She dyed wool and wove fabrics. My grandmother would take me around the farm and we’d go hunting for birds and bugs and look at the trees and she would tell me all about the native fauna and flora. So that’s where my love of birds and nature stems from. I did art at school until year eleven when my art teacher told me to give it up. She said I had no talent. So I stopped doing it and focused on art history in year twelve which I loved. That’s where I was exposed to Seurat who did pointillism. But that was the end of that so I left art and got married and had children. So when my daughter was born I did a bit of painting again because we needed some art to fill the walls. I got some canvases and paint and just started painting and it went from there.”
KI: “It’s only in the last five years that I’ve concentrated more on my birds. I grew up with paintings hanging in my parent’s and grandparent’s home by Rei Hamon, a New Zealand artist who did a lot of dot work, working in the pointillism style and that influenced me a lot. I picked up some pens and just started and I thought I quite enjoyed that and it just evolved from there. And I like going back to it, circles, a sort of Aboriginal influence.”
JB: “Did you have any formal art training?”
KI: “My studies were more about art history so learning about the artists and their techniques. For me it’s been more Internet based training. If I want to learn how to do something, I’ll just Google or You Tube it and go from there. About ten years ago I met a Russian lady who was doing adult art classes up at Selwyn College and she would offer guidance when I asked. She was fine art trained and helped a lot with colour selection so it wasn’t formal. She’d encourage us to draw every day so the more you practice the better you get.”
KI: “I always draw and sketch what I want to do first to get the proportions right and once I’m happy with that I’ll transfer it to a good piece of paper. If I’m doing a bird or animal, I’ll always start with the eyes, which sort of brings it alive for me and slowly work my way from there. I normally work from a photograph as a reference.”
JB: “What materials do you prefer to work with?”
KI: “I use pigment pens. Artline and Stadler are my two favourite pens because they have good pigment colour. If I work in black and white I use the different thicknesses to give me the light and dark shades.”
JB: “How do you see your art evolving?”
KI: “I start with the pointillism and then I want to try something different. But then I’ll come back to it. I come and go so I’ve never been able to stick to one technique forever and ever because there are too many other techniques that are lovely as well. At the moment I’m doing a painting but I can see my dottiness coming through, I’ll start dabbing on paint in big dots. At the end of the day art is my passion. I have to do it. It’s my time out that doesn’t involve my husband or kids.”
JB: “What’s your craziest art moment?”
KI: “It was a few years ago. Everyone had gone off to work and school and I had this giant canvas down stairs. I painted for six hours solid. I was just manic, painting this field of wild flowers. My husband came home and said wow, I like that. It’s still hanging in our lounge.”
JB: “What inspires you?
KI: “Nature, always nature. I find myself stopped at the traffic lights looking for a pencil to sketch out an idea, too many ideas to get them all out.”
JB: “Do you see your art as a business?”
KI: “I’ve never thought of it as a business. I just have to do it. Selling it is a bonus but I end up giving it away mostly to charities just to put something back. At the end of the day the sales help to cover my costs so I can buy more pens, buy more paint, buy more paper. It’s a means to an end really.”
JB: “If you could take a year sabbatical what would you do?”
KI: “That would be amazing. I would go to my favourite place, Tiritiri Matangi Island and stay in the dock house and take lots of photos and draw from real life. Just to get out in the fresh air with the birds and nature and make sketches then take this back into the studio and paint and draw and dot but from sketches from being out in the open.”
KI: “So the first one I did was ‘Inktober’ on Instagram. You could do a drawing a day for the whole of October on anything you like. Mine ended up being New Zealand themed. I found that if I tell people I’m doing it I have to do it. I have quite a few followers on Instagram now and I didn’t want to disappoint anyone so if you tell them you’re doing this thing you have to do it. I quite enjoyed that so I decided to do one myself in February, which turned out to be feathers. I found that the more I did, the better I would get. I would get home in the evening, get the house work done and sort the kids out then get on with my drawing. Sometimes it would be until midnight because I had to get it done that day.”
JB: “How important is social media in your art?”
KI: “I set up an Instagram account to keep an eye on my kids and then it was posting the odd picture and then it just evolved into being about my artwork. The more comments I got and the more followers I got the more confidence I got from that. And soon you have a whole lot of artists that you’re following and that are following you and it’s like a community. So that led me to setting up the art page on Face Book to get it out there. I’ve made a lot of sales through it, especially Inktober on Instagram so it’s a good way of marketing your art. But the community support through Instagram is amazing. I feel like I have a lot of friends all over the world now, even though some of them I’ve never met. We talk almost every day and share our art. It’s probably the main reason I am where I am today. It gave me the confidence to sell my artwork and not just fill up my walls.”
You can find Kristin on www.instagram.com/kristin.ivill.art and www.facebook.com/kristin.ivill