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West Coast Arts
Full-time Greymouth artist Mark Haldane is
motivated by his passion for art and by the
possibility of "creating something someone
thinks is amazing".
"And I paint for myself to be learning more
all the time," he said.
Haldane grew up in England and moved to
New Zealand in 2000, settling first in Nelson where he lived
for about 11-12 years. Now he lives at Gladstone.
"New Zealand is bringing out the art in me," he said.
"Since I ve been here I ve got into a thinking way of art . I
used to paint things around me just to look at. Now, there is
more depth of meaning. Now, I like to interpret how we feel,
by using particular colours and textures."
Haldane thinks his grandfather did some drawing, but there
was not really a family interest in art.
"But when I was young I used to draw on the walls in my
room. en mum stripped the whole room of wallpaper and
gave me all the walls to draw on. She has continued to be
supportive of my art and now lives here too."
His early interest in drawing continued into school with art
and ceramics his favourite subjects.
"I passed both with As so I carried on at school following
the art route and completed two more years specialising in A
level art and A level sculpture, in which modelling with clay
and painting were my forte.
"I had two teachers who were passionate about art and
about teaching, and after that I taught myself different
techniques, so I found out what techniques I like and don t
like. For example, I tend not to use paintbrushes. I use sticks
or anything else other than brushes. I hoard things for this."
After leaving school, which Haldane said seemed "a long
time ago", he spent a number of years landscape gardening
and found great beauty in plants and flowers.
" e thing I like most about plants is the structure of the
plant, how it stays upright, the different shapes it has to form
to hold its own weight and sometimes the downright gravity-
defying forms plants create, the key word being structure .
"I love structural plants. I also work with the space and
feeling of the area the plant is living in and that is where my
paintings get their modern side from, the feeling," he said.
"I specialise in structural art, art with texture. I particularly
like using copper, as it is a material that can change over
time. I love the colour of it in all its stages of oxidation. I find
it lends itself perfectly to nature, the orange, red and green
colours, highlighted by white with flecks of blue, help create
some stunning pieces of art.
"You hear musicians and artists talking about feeling and
some musicians say they actually see the music in colours.
Well, I feel an atmosphere about a painting or the area I am
doing a painting for. When people commission a piece of art,
the first thing I do, if possible, is visit the room where the art
is to be hung.
"I will get an instant feeling of what the painting is going to
be about, the colours and the size. It means I will also do the
painting specifically for the client.
"I will find out a little about them, get a general impression
of their characters and base their painting around them,
which is possibly why so many people love their paintings."
Haldane s favourite themes and subjects now include nature
and New Zealand culture.
"I like architecture, the structures and forms of buildings,
different building materials, and of plants."
He said his work has some similar style effects to those
of Dali, Van Gogh, Magritte, Monet, Kandinsky and
modern artists, and he finds the massive works of Rosenberg
"But I don t look at other artists work much. I always seem
to be too busy with my own," he
Haldane is a keen experimenter.
"I love pushing the boundaries and
using my materials to the limit. Some
materials break down, like the effects of
heat and acid on sheet metal to give new
colours and textures.
"I use acrylics and oils in the same painting,
spray paints over watercolours, and I have even
used power steering fluid. It had a nice pink colour which
suited the particular painting. I ve even used fire sometimes
on paintings. "
He said that over time his work had developed more and
more from painting actual things to his own interpretation of
"I still paint things which are pleasing to the eye, but also
interpreting how we feel. I don t do much sculptural work
(as with ceramics) now but my paintings have more 3D type
elements with metals and so on added and strong raised
Haldane s creative development process is going on all the
"I walk around all day long thinking about art. I see
something and instantly think about a possible picture. I have
to sketch it or talk into my phone to save the idea.
"When I get started, I work extremely fast and I paint for
eight hours at a time and quite often 12 hours, sometimes
through the night as well. I find all aspects of art very
therapeutic. e process of painting is satisfying but the end
result is even more satisfying.
"I don t really try to make other people think but I intend to
bring more political and other issues into my work in future.
"I think of my latest work as techno nature , so not just
to look at, but
with more special
colour, form and
"I have been a full-
time artist for about
a year. I currently paint
commissioned art works, sell
works through my website, www.rajart.co.nz and at venues
around New Zealand. I hope to be at Art in the Park in
March. I would like to have my art shown nationwide. at
would be awesome."
Haldane is also a children s book author. He writes the
stories but so far has not illustrated them. "I really enjoy
writing but it s not my type of art," he explained.
e first in a series of short books, Claude Fenchurch and
His Bright Red Car, will be in bookshops soon, and has been
tipped for success in the Joy Cowley Award. Also coming
together is a story based on a cat s two-week long walk which
mentions various local people.
Haldane also has skills in landscape design and gardening,
skatepark design and concrete work and football coaching,
but for now his focus is on building up a collection of
"Now I have a special place to work and display art, sharing
the newly refurbished White Room Studio and Gallery in the
Duncan Hardie building in Greymouth s Mackay Street, with
artists Tony Brown and Jeremy Leach.
"We re officially opening at the end of November. Local
people and visitors will be able to call up and see the art,
watch us working, and we will have small guest artists
exhibitions there as well."
Thursday, November 21, 2013 - 5
a tBritish-born artist
Mark Haldane is these
days combining his earlier
training and skills in ceramics
and painting to produce his own
sculptural art , working at a small
Greymouth studio and gallery. Here,
he talks to JO KEPPEL about the
development of his art since he
moved to New Zealand and
the West Coast.
Full-time artist, designer, and author of children s books, Mark Haldane works on a painting in the new White Room Studio and Gallery in Greymouth.
Mark Haldane s love of flowers and interest in light effects is shown in Into the Light.
Sc pt a
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