Northburn prolific period for artist

John Herbison with his piece Caitanya  "The Living Force", in memory of the Christchurch...
John Herbison with his piece Caitanya "The Living Force", in memory of the Christchurch earthquakes. Photo by Sarah Marquet.
John Herbison, or Yasoda Dulal as he is now known, studied fine arts under Colin Wheeler at Waitaki Boys' High School. However, that is where his formal training ended.

Consequently, he describes himself as an "outsider" in the art scene but says this is something he enjoys as it gives "more innocence and naivety" to his work.

Since the end of September, he has been artist-in-residence at Northburn Station.

His aim was to create 84 works in 64 days, as these were spiritually significant numbers to him.

Instead, he created over 90 works, a mix of paintings and sculptures, which are now exhibited at the station.

When asked how it was possible to create so many works in such a short time, he said it was a "festival of arts ... one idea sparked another".

"It makes you more spontaneous. You're not hung up on detail so you can move without inhibition in a childlike way ... [the] art comes from the heart, not the mind."

Though his pieces may be spontaneous, there are themes and ideas running through them.

A section of the exhibition is dedicated to Colin McCahon, with elements such as the cross representing McCahon's influence, but with ancient Indian elements befitting Herbison's spirituality.

There is also a piece dedicated to poet James K. Baxter, several pieces depicting Maori or local myths and history and several other pieces depicting topical issues.

One piece, All Over a Cup of Tea, looks like a mobile and is made from various kitchen implements, including a teapot.

It is a depiction of the cloud surrounding John Key and John Banks' pre-election cafe meeting.

Another, Caitanya "The Living Force", is a huge wooden sculpture made of kauri pieces and was inspired by the Christchurch earthquakes.

One side of the sculpture is green, representing a ponga and new life, the other side is yellow and he describes it as the human element surrendering.

Most of his materials he found or purchased cheap from demolition contractors following the February earthquake.

The paint used is car or house paint - test pots that had fallen off shelves during the quake.

The canvases are old, damaged scout tents.

The boards are pieces found in the Christchurch rubble.

The sculptures are also made from things he had found around Northburn.

His work will be on show until December 23 and proceeds will go to charity and to support his family in India.



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