Artist Profile – Philip Madill

Philip Madill is a Dunedin artist who draws inspiration from his interest in history to create captivating artworks. Always working towards absolute perfection in his pieces, Philip specialises in drawing and painting, and has been recognised for his skill and precision in this area.

Philip Madill at his exhibition ‘Virtual Continuum’

Philip Madill at his exhibition ‘Virtual Continuum’  (photo by Helen Owen)

Philip’s imaginative and creative pieces draw the viewer into an alternate world. Realistic components are brought to life by the talent with which they are rendered, and imagined or out-of-place objects and buildings add a deceptively surreal quality to the works. Despite their sometimes stark or disturbing nature, the images have ‘life’ to them, sometimes from a ray of light illuminating a deserted scene, other times through the sense of movement or in a human figure frozen in action. Philip has several times undertaken the painstaking task of drawing moving water. He is a master of the miracle of turning a flat piece of white paper into a 3D image with depth, movement and life.


Untitled – held in private collection (on my lounge wall – lucky me!)

Philip’s art has been described as “punctilious, eerie (quasi-futurist) works in graphite” and “meticulously worked“. Some combine the natural environment with intrusive technology; others place humans in uncomfortable alternative realities, linked by the artist to ideas of totalitarianism. Rather than dystopian futures as others have described them, I perceive these rather as an imagined dystopian past – possible alternate outcomes if events of the 1940s and 50s had taken a different route. The boxy and primitive technology of the figures in the work below evokes this well.

unnamed (1)


I am particularly captivated by Philip’s works which contain human figures. Perfectly proportioned and immaculately finished, these works are eerie and believable. They bring a more personal element to the concepts behind the works.

Equally impressive are Philip’s geometric, greyscale paintings. The style is unusual, and the variety of tones brought to the works using only greys is remarkable. These paintings are mindbogglingly precise, and scream of “I could never have done that” – a quality I personally look for when appreciating art.


Untitled – currently being exhibited at Mint

Philip’s impressive educational achievements have contributed to his artistic style, providing context, content and development. Following on from a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Dunedin School of Art, Philip went on to complete a Master of Fine Arts, gaining the top endorsement of Distinction. He also won both the undergraduate and postgraduate drawing prizes presented by the School. In addition, Philip holds a Graduate Diploma in Fine Arts from Massey University, and a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in History, from the University of Otago.


Untitled – currently being exhibited at Mint

Philip has received recognition in Art New Zealand magazine (Issue 148), many favourable reviews, repeated attention in major art prizes – including thrice shortlisted for the Parkin Drawing Award (including 2015) and as a four times Wallace Award finalist (and I see a major win in the near future). He has a solid exhibition background over a relatively short career, including solo shows and regular invitations to group shows.

Mint Gallery currently holds Philip Madill’s work in stock, including both paintings featured in this post. We will be hosting another solo exhibition of Philip’s paintings in the future. Head over to our website to see more about Philip’s last exhibition with us or read the Otago Daily Times review here.


Observation Room – featured in Art New Zealand Issue 148 (held in private collection)

Artist Profile – Blue Black


Meet Blue Black.

Mint Gallery first had the privilege of exhibiting Blue’s drawing and ceramic works in November 2014. Many of you will remember the very successful show titled Earthmovers. If you missed the show, read the review here.

With a studio in the heart of Dunedin in historic Kind Edward Court, Blue’s unassuming nature has seen him working away under the radar, while quietly accumulating a growing stack of awards, commissions and solo exhibitions. These include as a two-times finalist in the Portage Ceramic awards – New Zealand’s premier ceramic awards (2006, 2014) and a finalist in the prestigious Wallace Awards (2008). He was also the Premier Winner of 2014 Lysaght Watt Trust Art Award, and has been named a finalist in too many others to list.

Blue has been working in and studying fine arts for many years, upgrading from a Certificate in Fine Arts to a Diploma, then again to a Bachelor of Fine Arts, and finally gaining a Master of Fine Arts from the Dunedin School of Art in 2010. During this time, Blue regularly exhibited work in solo and group exhibitions across the country.

The diverse and contrasting nature of Blue’s work is captured well by Anne Basquin. She reviewed Blue’s works in the final Masters show (2010) on the Dunedin Art School Gallery Blog. The description of one work as “sombre, frightening forms hanging from the same coiled mattress springs” and the comparison by Blue of the work to an abbatoir, contrast strongly with my thoughts when viewing a photo of a similarly-constructed work. I was instantly reminded of whimsical puppets on strings, and Basquin herself describes that work as having a “distinct feel of a dance taking place” (view works and read Basquin’s review).


I find describing Blue’s ceramic work as something of struggle, because it is so unique. Organic abstract perhaps. Words which come to mind include distorted, colourful, muddy, whimsical, grim, playful, frightening, amusing, surreal, human. There is often a familiar form – a hand, an animal, or some other figure, but Blue’s intensive creative process takes his pieces far past the obvious, until there is more of a suggestion of the recognisable, rather than a definite shape. My favourite piece, which was part of the Earthmovers exhibition, reminded me of a disembodied hand and immediately brought back memories of “Thing” from the Addams Family (front and centre in picture below). The other pieces on the table also all remind me of something real – snails, turtles and marine creatures. This is what is special about Blue’s works, even when sometimes mildly disturbing, they can also be amusing and evoke happy thoughts.


As with the form of the works, Blue’s use of colour also seems to follow no particular rule, except that it is what is right for the work, and is the outcome of the creative process. As a result, we are treated to a full spectrum – from muddy, earthy works through to those in raucous colour. This is true of both Blue’s ceramics and drawings. Somehow though, in Blue’s hands, vibrant oranges, yellows and reds do not seem jarring or jangly. I particularly appreciate the sophisticated use of colour in this way – where bright colours don’t automatically associate with bright feelings and vice versa. I also love the depth achieved by the layering of many colours and textures.

blue 2

A combination of art education, personal dedication and submission to the creative process has resulted in Blue becoming a mature and accomplished artist. There is a depth to Blue’s work which comes only after years of thoughtful development. This is not to suggest however that Blue is reaching some kind of artistic peak; I can’t help but feel there will be many more accolades in Blue’s future as he continues to evolve his work.

Introducing Tracy!


You may have noticed a new face at Mint lately, so it’s time to officially introduce Tracy Dowling – our new(ish) Gallery Administrator. Tracy brings a wealth of experience from her previous roles, and has been busy learning all aspects of the business. She can provide advice and quotes for gallery and workshop services, does framing and printing work, as well as taking care of most of our administration. Tracy is in all day on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and has provided an injection of skills, ideas and knowledge to our team. We are ecstatic to have her on board – she is already making herself invaluable!

Canvases – Not all made alike

A canvas wrap is a piece of canvas fabric printed with an image and then stretched around a wooden frame. Most of us have one or know someone who does. Canvas wraps have exploded in popularity in the last few years, and the trend doesn’t appear to be slowing down. As the demand for canvas wraps has grown, the market has become saturated with ever cheaper, cut-price options from large chain stores and online providers. In this post, we explain some key elements of a canvas and why it can be better to invest in a gallery-produced item.

A canvas wrap is an easy way to create custom artwork for your home or office

A canvas wrap is an easy way to create custom artwork for your home or office

Canvases are an affordable way of reproducing large images – cheaper than a large photo because a canvas does not require mounting, framing and glass (there are frame options though to create a polished result – see more below). Photographs or original artworks can be reproduced onto canvas, allowing you to create custom artworks.

Mass-produced will never be as good. It goes without saying that the cheapest options are compromising on the quality of materials, and to make up for low prices, some providers rely on very high volumes of work produced very quickly to be profitable. How does that actually affect your finished canvas though?

There are many components that make up a canvas wrap, and each needs to be done properly with high-quality materials to produce a professional finish.


Higher quality canvas is harder wearing, so it will last longer, and with less stretch remains firm once wrapped.

Stretcher frame

The stretcher frame needs to be good quality so that the wood doesn’t break or bow resulting in a warped or twisted canvas.


Type and quality of inks

High quality archival inks are colour-fast for 100 years, which means your vibrant prints won’t fade over time.

Some companies use solvent inks, which although resistant to water and weather and do not require lacquer protection, are not designed to be long-lasting. Solvent inks are used primarily on temporary items that go outdoors – signs and billboards. The printers that use solvent inks are unable to give as high-resolution a finish as pigment inks.

True colours

When you order a canvas online, you are risking receiving an outcome with different colour tones to what you expected. In a big print lab, the colours will be processed by a machine and you may get over-saturated colours or other problems. There is no time with a huge volume of prints to ensure colour matching for every customer. Colours can also look different on different computer screens.



Lacquer seals the ink onto the canvas providing a protective layer from moisture and UV light. It helps preserve the colours in your image, as well as general protection against bumps and scratches.

Wrapping method

A high volume mass production lab may mean your canvas wrap is rushed or produced by an untrained operator. This can result in warped or loose wrapping, and small details, such as corner folds, may be done for speed, rather than best method.


The Mint Gallery Difference

At Mint, we use high quality materials, including fine art grade canvas with a high cotton count, gallery quality frames which are more hard-wearing, and archival quality inks. Multiple layers of lacquer are hand applied. Mint Gallery uses pigment inks for high photographic resolution. Our team has the expertise to professionally enlarge images in order to maintain detail. At Mint, you will get true, vivid colours. We make sure we match the colours to your file (or can adjust them to your requirements), and because you can visit our workshop, you can check that what is on the computer screen is the outcome you want or we can run tests prints for you.

The other important difference is the service we provide. Being able to speak to our team face-to-face means you can discuss the result you want. At Mint, we ensure that every item is made with care and attention to detail – our reputation depends on it. Our team are experienced in printing, stretcher frame construction, canvas wrapping and Photoshop – all the skills required to make a top-quality canvas.

Best of all, you can still order your canvases online! All you need to do is email a high resolution file of your image, and we will make your canvas to your specifications and can courier the final result to you anywhere in New Zealand.

Other Services 

If you don’t like the look of an unframed canvas wrap, we can also frame it for you. There are a couple of different options which make for a great finish. The first is using what we call a “surround frame”. It is a deep frame that the canvas sits into. The canvas sits flush with the front of the canvas hiding the sides, but not covering any of the front of the image. The alternative is the more traditional type of frame, where part of the frame comes over the front slightly covering the image edges.

At Mint, we specialise in giclee service for high quality art reproduction. We can photograph and digitally reproduce original art works for resale as editions. Please enquire with us about this service.

Artist Profile – Anna Reid

For our first artist profile, we are excited to introduce Anna Reid, who is opening her exhibition Coast with us this Friday.

Anna Reid at her studio

Anna Reid at her studio

Anna began life surrounded by some of the most stunning landscapes in the world, having been raised in the high country of the Cardrona Valley. She was educated in Dunedin at highschool and polytechnic, before setting off overseas to a life in England. Upon returning to New Zealand, Anna pursued study in Fine and Visual Arts, and is now devoted to art full-time with a studio in central Dunedin. She has exhibited extensively since 2006 in local solo and group shows, building her profile each year. Awards for her work are starting to mount up and include: First Prize – City of Dunedin Art Awards: 2009, Best Work under $1000.00 – Aspiring Art Awards: 2010, Printmaking Prize – Wanaka Art Society: 2011, and Special Mention in the 2013 Edinburgh Art Awards.

Anna’s exhibition at Mint will include both paintings and prints. She draws much of her inspiration from the Otago harbour environment by which she lives, and has produced a series of works in earthy, neutral tones complemented by soothing blues and greens. We see in Harbour Cone below, the familiar landmark presented from a different perspective to the usual, providing freshness to this instantly recognisable staple of the Otago Peninsula.

Harbour Cone

Harbour Cone

Whereas some of Anna’s previous works emphasise the rawness of the landscape, scraped and stretched by geological processes, Coast has a softer feel, with rich colouring and glowing tones. In Hoopers and Papanui Inlets below, sun is struggling through the stormy clouds, illuminating the barren landscape below. The juxtapostion between the sinister-looking clouds and the breaking sunlight begs the viewer to wonder “Is there a storm brewing, ending or merely passing by?”

Hoopers and Papanui

Hoopers and Papanui Inlets

Perhaps more striking are simpler works like Purakanui Beach below – largely monotone with a wash of a single colour. These skilfully recreate the form of the landscape with minimal strokes, letting the mountains, sky and sea speak for themselves.

Purakanui Beach

Purakanui Beach

Anna enjoys experimenting with different media and techniques including drypointscollagraphy, and chine collé in printmaking, as well as combining printing and painting in the same work. To create texture and depth, multiple plates may be used. When painting, Anna usually creates acrylic works on board, which allows for sanding and scrubbing between layers. Charcoal and conté crayon are often applied on the final layer. High quality materials are used, and most prints are singles, but always less than five editions.

Anna’s careful consideration and treatment of her subject matter clearly shows her passion for landscapes. Also clear is her love for art as a discipline, rather than as a mere passtime. Anna continues to push herself, experimenting with technique and medium, working with layers, and creating depth and textures in her works. If you would like to see more of Anna’s works, her exhibition will be open at Mint Gallery from Thursday, May 14 to Wednesday, May 27 – opening event on Friday, May 15 at 5pm. Visit our Facebook page for more information.

Headlands from St Clair

Headlands from St Clair