Chris Finlayson

October 23, 2004


Born 1955 – Balclutha – New Zealand

Christopher John Finlayson lives with his wife Nicola Kim in an old farmhouse in Golden Bay, a secluded district in the northwestern region of New Zealands southern island. A multi-layered artist, he is capable of many commercial art practices. He also has personal artistic interests, creating works for exhibition and producing music.
His professional journey both public and private, is enveloped with challenging experiences from life threatening to profound. Along the way his work has touched the lives of many people and the environment in which they live.

A bit of History

In Auckland 1975 he began freelancing as an illustrator in magazines, brochures, newspapers and work for book publishers. This landed him a position heading an art department for a small but popular suburban newspaper ‘The Inner City News’.

At the same time he was exploring his own ‘private work’ direction which brought him into contact with other artists and got involved in the ‘underground’ scene of music, theatre, writers, poets and film makers. He was introduced to painting large scale size by working on a set for a punk band promotion video.

The contrast of his ‘day job’ and ‘the other half’, all got a bit to much of mixed messages after a few years. On one hand, there was the pressure of the commercial world to comply with a conservative style, imaginative material designed to attract the unsuspecting greed of consumers.

On the other hand, his private life and art rubbed shoulders in a so called freedom of expression and multi level cultural awareness, yet he suspected he fell short of the gaze from a ‘serious’ art world for lack of a recognizable mono-typical style and academic compliance.

He left Auckland and went bush for 9 months. In 1983 he resurfaced in Nelson, reinvented as a muralist.
Over the following years, muralwork and the like, introduced him into a variety of contrasting social environments, along the way exhibiting private work in mainstream galleries, prestigious restaurants and occasionally an established dealer gallery.

His muralwork in prisons became in part, a study for an internationally recognized book on Arts Therapy and Rehabilitation, focusing on the Health and Justice sectors in society.

He was the first ‘known’ artist to work on site during construction of Te Papa Museum of New Zealand. The memorable 250metre mural painted on a construction fence was the longest in NZ at that time. When it was time to come down, people complained. An auction was held and from the sale of mural panels, $16000 was donated to a childrens charity.

‘Surreal Meal’ 78 ink

In 1990 he was working on a project in Wellington, on the top tier of scaffolding 4 floors up the side of a building when the city was struck by a force 5 earthquake.In 1995 his expertise was sought on a huge Underwater World complex under construction in Nanjing, China. He lived and worked there with local artists on the project.

On a community project in Palmerston North 1998, he worked with ‘people with disabilities’. Three were blind, five had arms and legs missing, four quadriplegics, six down syndrome and a small bus load of eight who did’nt know why they were there. They suffered alzheimers and yet everyone was moved by the process of painting.

In recent years Finlayson has been working with youth and community groups on projects, mostly in the South Island and besides his public commissions, he remains dedicated to private art interests.


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