Did you know that Tony Harrington was one of our very FIRST Aotearoa Artists when The Poi Room started 14yrs ago? We were BUZZING way back then when we first represented his work & as the years have gone on, we still share the same excitement & enthusiasm when we present his talent within our Gallery Showrooms.
Let us introduce you to Napier-based Artist, Tony Harrington!
WHAT IS YOUR ARTISTIC PRACTICE?
I would say primarily that I paint but it is more of a fusion of wooden assemblage sculptures/painted artworks that I create.
WHAT DOES A NORMAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
My weekdays would start with the school drop for my two daughters, then followed up with my daily coffee at my local Switch Coffee Roasters to kick start the creative thought process! Then either a run with the dog or a gym session. From there it's back to the studio to either paint or the workshop to work on constructing works. It just kinda depends on what works I have on the go as to whether it's a paint day or workshop day. I will work until school pick up time, then any extracurricular activities the girls may have on any given day, dinner, hang out with the whanau (family), then once everyone else is tucked up in bed I will usually head out to the studio to paint into the small wee hours...
HOW DID IT ALL BEGIN - WHERE DID THIS PASSION FOR THE ARTS COME FROM?
As far back as I can remember really... I have just always had a love for the arts & always been very creative! Since early primary school days right through to now! In fact, I can recall a time back at Richmond Primary School, an artist was painting a mural on our school wall & I would look out the window & think to myself how cool it would be to be able to just do art for a living...then fast forward a few years & here we are, living the dream.
WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION AS AN ARTIST?
This is a question I do get asked a lot, the simple answer is everywhere! There are literally ideas & inspiration in everyday life, from things we see & do & experience on the daily. Then those ideas are either acted upon right away, or more often than not, tucked away in the 'think tank' to be refined for another day.
WHAT IS THE THEME / INSPIRATION / STORIES BEHIND YOUR PIECES?
My current art practice is based on exploring themes & instances which make up our cultural landscape here in Aotearoa (New Zealand).
YOU'RE A BEER GUY, SO TELL US, WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BEER & WHAT BEER WOULD YOU SUGGEST AFTER A LONG HARD DAY?
Well, now that is a tricky one to answer...one favourite?! I am more of a try whatever is fresh on tap at the local, I mean I love a good Hazy (as do most), but I also like to balance things out with a nice local Larger now & then, or a hopped-up NZ Pilsner, the fresh Hop season is always welcomed with open arms & then come these cooler months is always good to settle down in front of the fire with a thick Dark Stout!
Hey, I could go on here but won't! But if I did have to recommend, a tried-&-true sessional classic would have to be Garage Project's - Hapi Daze which always goes down well after a hard day's graft!
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT LIVING / WORKING IN AOTEAROA?
I have done a bit of traveling but there is nowhere like home, right? I love the simplicity of getting around this beautiful country of ours, I mean you can literally drive anywhere in a matter of days! You don't really even need to plan a whole lot, just get in your wagon & go. I love the natural environment we are surrounded in, the beaches, bush, & mountains all just right there waiting to be explored. I love our culture here in Aotearoa & all which makes it unique to the rest of the world. I love the produce we make here in Aotearoa, the creative energy which is flowing here & of course the world-class Craft Beer we brew! But most of all it is the people - it is people.
HOW HAS YOUR ARTWORK CHANGED OVERTIME?
My work is always evolving! As I mentioned earlier, we are constantly inspired & influenced by things on a daily basis, I think this naturally passes over into how & why I make the art I do. There are still many ideas still waiting to burst out into fruition, so my work will be moving along in those directions when the time comes. Nowadays with the digital space, we can see a whole lot more with just the click of a button & it is also a whole lot easier to get your work seen by a much bigger audience. I think the usage of social media these days has been a big player for a lot of creatives to get their work seen & has helped to establish them on not only a local but worldwide platform.
WHAT IS YOUR STUDIO / CREATIVE SPACE LIKE?
TOO SMALL! Nah, it is cool but could definitely do with some more space. I have an old shed which is my workshop, then I have my studio space out back where the paint goes down. The plan is to build a new workshop in the not too distant future...& possibly extend the studio? Am always looking at options...
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE YOUR LEGACY / LASTING IMPRESSION TO BE AS AN ARTIST?
I would like to think that the artworks I have created are appreciated & treasured as a kind of present-day taonga (treasure), to be passed down to other generations (should they be interested) to be something that they could then cherish as a reminder of those who have gone before them & helped to shape & strengthen their life, just as my creations have helped to shape & strengthened my life. I would hope that I could do that & that I'd been a good traveling companion.
WHAT DREW YOU TO WORKING WITH THE POI ROOM?
I have been with The Poi Room since day one! They found me, I was fresh out of Art School, Melanie-Jane & Clayton were on a road trip scouring the land for artists to start up their first Gallery. They told me their ideas which I really liked & said... "Let's Roll". I came up to the big city for The Poi Room's grand opening & have never looked back - it has been 14yrs since.
DESCRIBE YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE POI ROOM & HOW OUR VALUES FIT WITH YOU AS AN ARTIST?
I think of my relationship with The Poi Room as more of a partnership, we can freely bounce ideas off each other & come up with outcomes that suit clients' needs & expectations. We both have a fairly good understanding of how we both roll & what is needed to keep things fresh & relevant. The core values of supporting NZ made & buying from local creatives at The Poi Room & their passion for well-made Aotearoa Art fits in perfectly with my business plan of providing products sourced & made right here in Aotearoa.
Now I think it's time for beer!
SHOP TONY'S COLLECTION HERE