Friday, 30 October 2015

NZ Artists celebrate rugby, our national sport

"Rise Up" print by Barry Ross Smith
With the final of the 2015 rugby world cup this weekend today we are featuring prints for sale of artworks by NZ artists that feature our national sport.  This time there has been no commissioned art by the world cup, unlike the 2011 rugby world cup in New Zealand when Dick Frizzell was commissioned by the organisers to produce a series of limited edition screenprints (the unsold prints were purchased by a couple of ex- All Blacks and will no doubt resurface shortly if NZ wins the 2015 tournament).

One of our favourite pieces of NZ sporting art is "Rise Up" by Barry Ross Smith.  He's not a dispassionate observer of the game like British born but NZ resident artist David John with his now venerable "changing room" series, Smith is a passionate supporter of rugby.  His painting depicts the haka as performed by bull like rugby players, simultaneously referencing Greek legend, our most famous team and NZ's farming heritage that features so strongly in his work.

Now just about sold out - so I won't add a link to the print on our website - is a nice historical print of NZ's first game of rugby, between this writer's old school - Nelson College and a team of non-school players from Nelson in Paul Wilding's "The College vs Town".

NZ's First Game of Rugby - Artist Paul Wilding
Issues around licensing mean that artists can't depict actual players or official New Zealand team playing strips, in a series published by Christchurch art print publisher Image Vault Julia Drake valiantly attempted to depict a rugby match without breaching the All Blacks ferociously enforced copyright.

Old Rugby Boots - Dick Frizzell Limited Edition Print
Haka Actions (Kia Kaha Kid)
There is no reason why our sporting success can't be celebrated in art, earlier in the year we called for more, not less, sporting art but only Dick Frizzell seems to be open to respond-ing to the obvious market demand for prints of rugby - win or lose in the cup final this weekend this is one subject that will be on NZ's walls for as long as we are selling art prints to New Zealanders.  From both ends of the pricing spectrum here is "Kiha Kaha Kid" - the actions of the New Zealand rugby team's haka performed by Dick's character of the same name ($49.95) and his $1050 screenprint of a pair of rugby boots (Old Boots) treated with all the seriousness of a painting of the high Renaissance.