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Welcome to the NZ Art Guild blog - here you will find the news updates, links to members art, information about art exhibitions and events, art challenge winners etc.

For full information about the NZ Art Guild, its services and to become a member go to NZ Art Guild

Monday, 27 June 2011

NZ Art Guild June Featured Member ~ Leo Cappel

Let me introduce myself, Leo Cappèl.
I was born in Amsterdam, in 1933. I survived the war by hiding in a small village in Friesland. Afterwards, to recuperate, the Red Cross sent me to Switzerland, to live with foster parents. I am a graduate of the Rietveld Art Academy in Amsterdam, and studied art in Paris as well. Living in different countries and having to speak several languages had a profound effect on my personality and, I guess, on my art.

I can't help being an artist, but for me art means painting, and also sculpting, writing - novels, short stories, plays - and finally music. All are interwoven: when I am sculpting I tell a story. When I write a short story I paint a picture with words. When I build a musical instrument, I sculpt not only the object, but also the sound it has to produce. When I write the music for one of my musicals the lyrics are part of the plot, and the melody tells about the singer, about the person I have created. And in many of my paintings the rhythmical patterns of music can be recognized.

And that is where the NZ Art Guild comes in. Years ago I tried to join the Arts Council. 'You sculpt too, don't you?' they asked. 'Yes.' 'Then you better try the craft council. Sculpting is not ART, just craft.' Such ignorance! By now some of their administrators are beginning to catch up, but they still put the various arts into separate compartments. Little boxes. Not so the NZ Art Guild, no tunnel-vision there! When I wanted to exhibit two of my painting-sculpting combinations in Wellington, they went out of their way to help me and make it possible. In their newsletter they listed a play wrighting competition! (yes, that is the correct spelling, you don't write a play, you wright it) Thank you NZ Art Guild! I entered a 75 minute play. The results won't be known till November, keep your fingers crossed for me.

The cast of my musical 'PAPAGENINA'S FLUTE', produced by the Northland Youth Theatre. My three art forms: the costumes, the set and movements on the stage satisfied me as a visual artist, the way my black-and-white scribbles on paper turned into real people on the stage made the writer in me happy, and hearing for the first time the songs and the interlude music I had written, was very, very moving for me as musician.

I married a young lady, Karen, who was just as interested in music as I was. She had studied at the Amsterdam Conservatory, so music was one of the several things we had in common. We have now been happily married for 54 years.

Much of our music is centered around the instruments I have built, like this lyre. I considered my instruments as sculptural items

After we immigrated to New Zealand I made small dioramas at the Canterbury Museum and later the large dioramas in the Auckland War Memorial Museum. For 22 years!!!

What I consider as one of my major 'creations' was the yacht Claes Compaen, which I designed myself, and, with the help of our family, built in Auckland. To me she was a living sculpture. Our treasured home for 16 yrs

Our main sources of income during our sailing and live-aboard days were sculpting; building and selling early musical instruments; giving concerts and writing. In that order. Don't try and pigeon-hole me though, it won't work.
Most of my sculpting I could do 'down below' in our large main cabin, but bigger work had to be done on the aft deck. Much of my work was intended as a social comment.

When someone saw this sculpture at a solo exhibition one of the visitors whispered: 'How the hell did he know how I feel?' And a few moments later she sighed: 'At least somebody understands.'

I felt the need to get away from the surface, away from the solid looking bronzes I did earlier on. I tried ferro-cement and open mesh, and our large deck was ideal for that work. But I also developed combinations of mesh-sculpting and oil painting, 'paintures'. More satisfying.

Now we are landlubbers once again, quick a shock after 16 years aboard followed by 10 years on tiny Kawau Island. Still trying to balance my three art forms, the last few weeks I have been printing two more books (my memoirs - talked into it - and an anthology of poems which I translated into English), while a mesh sculpture and a large painture are waiting to be finished.

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