Arrowtown-based artist Jenny Mehrtens has marked the Chinese
New Year with a series of paintings inspired by Chinese
gold-miners who helped settle the Wakatipu 150 years ago.
The Year of the Horse will begin on Friday and Mrs Mehrtens
said to mark the area's historical and growing links with
China she had teamed up with Diamond, a Queenstown-based
infant formula business selling directly to China, to
celebrate the Chinese New Year with the pieces in her
''Chinese Miners Gold'' exhibition.
The range of largely fictitious characters had been painted
in oil and set in front of a wall of ''gold leaf'' bricks
representing the foundation and building blocks of the area,
which grew largely as a result of the 1860s gold rush.
Mrs Mehrtens said several years ago she became interested in
what it would have been like in Arrowtown during the gold
rush with ''people as workhorses''.
''I researched photos and stories.
''The plight and look of the Chinese miners fascinated me, so
far from home in such a tough and hostile environment.
''They played a significant role in the tough game of
gold-mining and surviving in this area.
''I had to paint them to better get to know them.''
Mrs Mehrtens said the Chinese had brought ''colour and
character'' to the region and made a contribution to the
area's fabric ''despite some questionable treatment of
''While painting my series, two words kept emerging: respect
''I have great admiration for the Chinese miners and have
painted these images to mark their lasting contributions and
presence in Central Otago.''
• The works are on display in the Diamond showroom, on Earl
St, at the Dudley's Cottage Cafe in Arrowtown and at
Provisions Cafe in Arrowtown.