Q&A: Industrial artist Duncan Nash
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Q&A: Industrial artist Duncan Nash

Duncan Nash takes a break from working with his tin sculptures to tell us about his life, and preparing for The Christchurch Art Show.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Well I'm an import, as I was born and grew up in the UK. I've always had a passion for art and building things. My dad's motto used to be "why would I buy one when I can make it myself," so that definitely inspired me to get creative. I've studied product design and illustration and worked as a graphic designer, screen printer, signwriter and technical illustrator. I love anything which engages my art brain and lets me learn new skills. I came to New Zealand in 2000 and made the move to Christchurch in 2012 to be part of the re-build. It's a fantastic place to live with so many contrasting places to explore and find inspiration. If I'm not in the workshop covered in paint and a few bruises from hammering tiny nails all day, I can usually be found on one of the local bike trails covered in mud, and more bruises.

What kind of art do you create? Typically three-dimensional, either wall hanging pieces or larger free-standing sculptures, all made using the metal from tin cans and occasionally other re-purposed items.

How do you bring the industrial together with the artistic? The great thing about using tin cans as a medium is being able to apply the corrugations in the metal almost like paint stokes. Changing the direction or using a different part of the metal alters the look and the texture of the piece. I always like to paint my work rather than leave the bare metal. I find adding bright colours and playing with a mixture of finishes gives me another way to transform the appearance of the surface and give more character to the final result.

What would you like people to take away from your art? I'd like it to inspire other people to have a go at the one idea they had for a piece of art but didn't because they thought it was too different or a bit weird. You won’t know if there's an audience for your ideas unless you give them something to look at.

What are you planning to display at the Art Show? I've been working on a new style that I didn't have at the last Christchurch show so I'm excited to show this, and hopefully a large sculpture for visitors to enjoy.

What do you like about meeting the public at the show? I love seeing the different reactions I get to my work and the conversations I get to have. It's great to be able to talk to someone and discover there's a cool back-story as to why they chose my piece of art. Sometimes the best thing can just be seeing someone walk away with a smile on their face.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received? "Sit down and make a list of what you need to do." This never fails to diffuse the zombie apocalypse that occupies my brain in place of basic organisation skills.

What are you listening to and bingewatching at the moment? There's always a true crime podcast on my playlist, and I'm currently watching the various seasons of Taskmaster UK while asking myself "What would I do?"

How do you relax? I usually go for a very slow walk with my 15-year-old dog. It's quite calming to be overtaken by a convoy of snails.

Tell us a secret about yourself. I like to tell everyone my favourite movie genre is horror but it's actually Hallmark Christmas movies.

Who’s another artist you’d like to shout out to? It's hard to pick just one. I'd give a shout out to all the artists I’ve met through Arts Canterbury who produce amazing work and are hugely supportive of each other and their art. Maybe also Andy Warhol who obviously doesn't need the exposure but if he's watching I hope he approves of what I’m creating with soup cans.

What’s next for you after the Art Show? I'd like to work on more large sculptures as I really enjoy the bigger scale and the challenges it brings. Also a trip to the supermarket to stock up on baked beans and tinned tomatoes.


The Christchurch Art Show
Te Pae Convention Centre
Friday 24 – Monday 27 June



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