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Urban artist Kara Burrowes uses quake-salvaged wood, paint tins in her work

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Cantabrian Kara Burrowes is an artist who works with reclaimed “trash” to create jewellery, wall art and other works.

Where you see a rusty paint tin lid, Kara Burrowes sees a future art project.

The urban street artist draws inspiration from everyday objects most would discard, reinventing them to create an unrecognisable form to hang on the wall, on your neck or on a shelf.

“All of my work is inspired by the urban environment. I collect stuff and make stuff with that, pieces of wood and metal, things from the railways, paint lids that I resin … I take a lot of photos – I’ve taken thousands since the earthquakes.”

Kara Burrowes is an artist, she makes her pieces from reclaimed urban items and will be showing at the FIKSATE Design Studio and Gallery this month.

Her style changes often, but is heavily influenced by graffiti and wood – not surprising given texture and interesting materials are her modus operandi. She has recently ventured into jewellery and necklace making, but wall art was her first love.

Burrowes has completed a bachelor of landscape architecture, a bachelor of fine arts in painting and a graduate diploma in design. After the Christchurch earthquakes, she noticed Rekindle, a resourcefulness and anti-wastefulness organisation, was working with reclaimed timber from demolished buildings in the city’s residential red zone (RRZ) and asked for its offcuts.

After playing with the colours, shapes and forms of the discarded pieces, she created repetitive patterns using the cuttings from little blocks to create detailed mosaic-like designs.

As with most art, the process for creating each piece is unlike the one before. Each poses its own challenges, but the general method involves cutting, gluing, re-cutting and re-gluing before the piece is painted and hung.

It takes a “ridiculous amount of time”, but the finished product was worth the labour of love, she said.
Inspiration for her most recent works, designed for the Auckland Art Fair last week, came in the wake of the Christchurch terrorist attack on March 15.

Each of the four designs, named Darkest Day and New Day, used “sunrise and sunset colours” with a mass of black to signify the darkness and horror of the shootings. Most were reminiscent of landscapes, and, rather than trying to make the materials feel new, she celebrated the “little story behind all the existing layers of paint”.

With her supply of RRZ wood running out, Burrowes usually buys from wreckers now. Occasionally home owners who lost their houses in the earthquakes commissioned works made from the remnants of their property, but she was careful not to label herself as an “earthquake artist”.

“My work has moved on a lot since then, now I’m doing a lot of embroidery and the jewellery … everything is always changing.”

Christchurch was an “exciting place to be an artist” with so much activity in the city, but there was room for at least one more gallery to celebrate emerging artists or experimental “Melbourne-ish” works, the Pleasant Point-based artist said.

Burrowes, a finalist for the last two years at the Wallace Art Awards, the country’s largest annual art awards, will be showing at FIKSATE Design Studio and Gallery, on Gloucester St, in May.

Photos by: IAIN MCGREGOR/STUFF

Credit: Stuff

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