Friday, 7 December 2012

Lady Diana Isaac & her role in making Mickey to Tiki by Dick Frizzell NZ's most popular print ever

The recent death of Christchurch businesswoman and philanthropist Lady Diana Isaac was acknowledged by New Zealand's prime minister, John Key, who said “Lady Diana’s contribution to Canterbury and New Zealand was truly remarkable. From her early philanthropic work with her late husband Neil, right up until the time of her death, she was an outstanding champion for Canterbury, the arts and conservation”.

Mickey to Tiki by Dick Frizzell (original 1997 lithograph)
What wasn't mentioned in the many tributes was Lady Isaac's pivotal but little known role in the remarkable success of NZ's top selling print of all time, Mickey to Tiki Tu Meke by Dick Frizzell. The original Mickey to Tiki lithograph was printed by Dick in an edition of 50 on the 8th of October 1997.  Lady Isaac purchased number 5 of the edition and in 1998 she presented this print to the Christchurch Art Gallery.  It was Lady Isaac's print that was reproduced as a photolithograph (controversially including the 5/50 in pencil below the image that was to cause so much confusion initially about whether the reproduction was an original print or not).  Mickey to Tiki has been exhibited continuously at the gallery since Lady Isaac's presentation of the print to the gallery, most recently what has become Frizzell's most famous artwork featured in the "I see red" show at Christchurch Art Gallery and toured as part of an exhibition of the same name to other NZ galleries in 2009.

Tiki to Diki by Shane Hansen
The Mickey to Tiki image has become part of NZ's visual culture, it is widely studied at schools across NZ and is regularly referenced in artworks by other New Zealand artists such as in Shane Hansen's Tiki to Diki (shown here) and Lester Hall's Tiki Mouse.  Frizzell himself has re-visited his 1997 lithograph with his screenprint "Mickey to Tiki (Reversed)" which is half way through the edition already as we head into Xmas.

As the prime minister said in his statement “Lady Isaac was also a huge patron of the arts...her decades of philanthropy will be enjoyed for generations to come", and we'd like to say how much we appreciate her role in what has become New Zealand's top-selling print.

2 comments:

  1. ZUCH IZ TH LACK OF KNOWLAGE IN NZ Art-
    that th orignal waz azzenbled in 1985 by th
    california-new zealand artizt:Frank Womble
    Frizzell iz a RIPP OFF artizt

    Google: the ultra ztate

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  2. Just love the print by Dick Frizzel and would love to purchase and can do so through your site, but thought I should pass on what I'd regard as the most blatant abuse of copyright as I departed from Queenstown airport last Saturday.

    I work in the video field and felt compelled to pass this on. In essence, a limited edition print signed by the artist, but sold as a photocopy. If you need more details pls feel free to contact me. If this is a legitimate outlet for the artists prints, I apologise.

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