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Home is where the art is

Nestled in the picturesque surroundings of Ruatoria is Bub Dewes' home, which doubles as an ever-evolving art piece.

Dewes' style is a mix of street art and Māori influences, and he has been creating his unique pieces from an early age.

“I think I have always just loved art,” Dewes said.

“Even as a three-year-old I would draw all over the walls with crayons and my mum would go off at me. As a kid I just always loved drawing and making a mess.”

Dewes pursued his love of art at Ngata College, completing a Form 5 certificate via correspondence as the school didn't have an art teacher.

But when it came to the end of the year assessment his ability was questioned.

“When I got marked at the end of the year they didn't believe it was my work because they said I had done too much work in such a short amount of time. They gave me a 59 out of 60 but they didn't pass me for some reason. It was really bizarre.”

Out of high school, Dewes honed his skills at EIT's Toihoukura school of Māori visual art and design.

He has held exhibitions locally and internationally with his current exhibition “Year of the Mask” on now at Gisborne's Tupara Gallery on Gladstone Road.

All of the artworks in the exhibition are from lockdowns over the past two years.

“I sort of have different symbols that mean different things.

“In some of them you will see chain symbols and the chains represent lockdown, there are lightning symbols that represent your thoughts or your whakaaro or the way you are thinking at the time, and obviously there are a lot of mask images too.”

His love of hip-hop music has a strong influence in much of his art. He wears a Wu-Tang Clan pounamu around his neck.

“I'm not sure if people are aware of the Wu-Tang Clan, the hip-hop group from New York. I have liked them since the ‘90s and always liked the symbol.

“It's always been like a kaitiaki symbol for me because it's a bird. Even in art school everyone started calling me Wu-Tang. That was my nickname.”

Dewes' real passion is large-scale paintings and his home has become his canvas.

“The house that I live in was just a white, boring, two-bedroom concrete farmhouse. I found it really drab so painting artwork on it brightened it up for me.”

“And if you don't love it, well, you can always paint over it.”

When it was decided Local Focus would come out to video Dewes' house and art he decided to repaint just to freshen it up for the shoot.

“I wasn't happy with it. I was thinking, ‘shit, you are coming out to film this so I better make sure it's worth filming'.”

A video on Bub Dewes' painted property is available via Local Focus on YouTube and The Gisborne Herald's website.

ART HOUSE: Bub Dewes' home in Ruatoria doubles as his canvas, with the outside walls, and soon to be the roof, covered in his art. Pictures by Renae Lolohea
A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY: One of the best parts of rural living for Bub Dewes is being able to play music as loud as possible without annoying the neighbours.