Wednesday, November 30, 2022

The Big Apple Project’s apples to go under auction

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Organisers of the Big Apple art project Mauricio Benega (left) and Pitsch Leiser at The Tribune, Hastings. Photo / Warren Buckland

The Big Apple Project is almost complete, but we’ll definitely see its like again.

19 of the 20 art installations go under auction in Hastings on Wednesday night, after having been a three-month fixture around the streets of the city, Napier and Havelock North.

Pitsch Leiser, community arts development manager for Arts Inc Heretaunga, and Mauricio Benega of Studio Benega won’t say what’s in store for us next, but promise there will be more of these pop-ups in the future.

“The plan always was to do an annual or biannual event, so we’ll maybe do next year and have a pause, and maybe do something else,” Benega said.

“I don’t think it will be apples,” added Leiser.

The artworks have been ensconced at The Tribune in Hastings for the past few days, where hundreds of people have flocked to see them all together.

“The feedback was really that it was joyful, it was colourful. People brought their families to go on the apple trail. It was an activity, it was interactive,” said Leiser, who is also festival director of the Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival.

Beryl TV  The Big Apple Project's apples to go under auction Apple
The Big Apple art project ‘Dionysian Excess’, by Helen Kerridge, Tribune, Hastings. Photo / Warren Buckland

“We had a family that came in yesterday specially to have a photo with the last apple, because their child wanted to go to every single apple but they’d missed out on one.

“We always knew this was going to be a success, but we were positively surprised by how amazing it was. We knew the concept would work, but it has been amazing.”

All that remains is for the 19 apples to be auctioned off. The 20th is already on permanent display at Flaxmere Park.

What happens to the rest is still unclear.

The reserve price for each is $3,450, with more than 40 bidders having already registered their interest.

“We don’t know how much we’re going to fetch, but one of the things we do know is that a lot of people have said why can’t they stay in a public space,” Leiser said.

“So that’s one of the ideas, that we could find some buyers who want to donate it back to the community, and then what we would do is find a location and mount them permanently.”

Having such visible work has already paid dividends for some artists. One in particular, art teacher Helen Kerridge, was so encouraged by the response to her work ‘Dionysian Excess’ that she has now decided to paint full-time.

Artists and project organisers aren’t the only ones to have been delighted by the response.

“As a celebration of our local apple-growing industry and our artists, it has captured the imagination of our community. My congratulations go to Arts Inc Heretaunga and Studio Benega, who, with core funding support from our Council, made this project happen. Initiatives like these add so much to our revitalisation efforts in the Hastings City Centre,” said Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst.

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