24 Apr Artists in lockdown: Mark Braunias
Curator and Public Programmes Manager, Greg Donson interviews artist Mark Braunias about how Lockdown is going for him. Mark Braunias lives and works in the small village of Kawhia. He studied at the Canterbury School of Fine Arts in Christchurch, graduating in 1987. He has an impressive exhibiting history and his work is held in public and private collections in New Zealand and overseas. In 2007 he was artist-in-residence at Tylee Cottage which was followed by the exhibition ‘Londontown’ in 2008. Since then Braunias was also commissioned to create a terrific wall work that can be found on the walls leading up to the Gallery’s classroom.
This is a strange time for us all, how’s lockdown been going for you?
Nothing much has changed for me. I live and work in my studio fulltime so I have just carried on as per my usual day-to-day existence. More or less “Same old”. Sometimes I forget there is a lockdown and wonder why there seems to be slightly less people around.
How is it in Kawhia, is it OK being stuck in a smaller place and not being able to go to the big smoke?
As above. I was stuck already so just carried on in the same manner. I do my usual once a week supermarket shop drive over to Te Awamutu….. as I always did pre Covid -19. Lining up to get inside the Supermarket is something different and I wear a mask which I quite like doing.
Has being in lockdown altered the way you work? Have you had more focused time making? Have you been making art or something else? Bread, knitting a sweater, taming wild animals?
Just kept on truckin’ on.
Were you working on anything major when we went into lockdown? Did you have any big projects on the boil that have had to be cancelled or put on hold?
Not really. I decided last year to have 2020 as an exhibition free year so I could spend time just messing about in the studio. I have about 5-6 projects I am working on all in various stages with no clear objective of where they might go. I do this from time to time and find it suits me quite a lot. Having no pressure to commit to deadlines or subject matter I find very beneficial for my practice.
What’s surprised you about being stuck at home 24/7?
That it was not really any different for me than before.
What’s the one item or items you wished you’d acquired / purchased to keep you occupied during lockdown?
Nothing comes to mind. There is never enough time in any day to get done what I would really want to. Having to sleep I find is annoying but that’s something you can’t purchase. Yet.
Are you more disciplined in your making or a bit distracted?
Same as before.
What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened since you’ve been in lockdown?
A pipe burst in my bathroom and flooded that area. I was very very lucky to get a plumber in the next day to fix it. I had to stay in another room and he was fully masked and gloved up as he solved the problem. Normally I like to check out how they do things as I am curious. I gave him a bottle of red wine for making the effort to turn up so quickly. He will probably ‘charge me like a wounded bull’ when I get the invoice but when you ain’t got water you ain’t got much of a life.
Read any good books, listened to any good podcasts?
Yes. One of my projects is to re write and illustrate “The Golden Book Encyclopedia” set as first published between 1959-1969. It’s a long project and I have slowly been chipping away at it for over 10 years already. So I have been re-reading them and always discover things I didn’t know. Or did but never really understood until that moment.
What would your lockdown theme song be?
Pink Floyds “Comfortably Numb”.