Back in 1996, the artists Misery, Elliot Francis Stewart and Askew all met at the now defunct Auckland Metropolitan College. With a roll-call of less than 100 students, Metro was an old Mt.Eden house renovated into a school that differed from the average. Staffed with an array of eccentric teachers the school was run democratically with students equal in voice and able to participate in making all decisions including classes of interest, discipline for bad behaviour and even pay rises for teachers. The students were mainly misfits that didn’t fit into conventional schools for what ever reason. Often they were ‘Geeks’ in the sense that they already knew whole-heartedly what their strength or talents were and in this environment; and unlike other schools this was embraced and they were encouraged to pursue their own goals without being forced to fit into the regular mainstream curriculum. A vital lesson was taught in how to work the system to your own advantage and live life as an individual, a lesson that spawned so many success stories they can barely be counted and Misery, Elliot Francis Stewart and Askew are no exception to this.
Born in Maryborough, Queensland in 1982, Misery was raised in Brisbane until her family moved here when she was 12 years old. After a short stint at Takapuna Grammar on the North Shore, her mother moved her to Metro which was a much better fit to her artistic temperament and an environment that allowed her to thrive. Never forced to do anything other than her interests in drawing, painting and photography, Misery honed her skills feverishly sketching away in her little black books, creating characters in a style that set the blueprint for the twisted fantasy world she has gone on to create and become renown for. A pivotal point in her early career was the connection she made with her peers at Metro that were emerging into the graffiti scene and within a short time Misery cemented herself as one of the few dedicated graffiti girls in the New Zealand writing community. Living the best of both sides of the art world, Misery managed to exhibit and sell paintings during this time and started turning heads early on. Legendary artist Martin Emond (R.I.P) was one of those heads and recognised Misery’s talent instantly. They struck up a very close friendship and in many ways he mentored and encouraged her. This led onto Illicit Street wear owner Steve Hodge working closely with her to push her art into all the facets of fashion and pop culture it is seen in today, propelling the Misery name into international recognition. She has travelled many times to the USA, UK, Germany, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Tahiti, networking, exhibiting and promoting her work abroad. Today she is focussed on being an artist first and foremost and is working hard to follow her heart and instincts regarding her work. It seems like a new beginning and it is evident that many exciting developments are in store for this artist and her many fans.
Elliot Francis Stewart:
The 3rd youngest of nine children, Elliot Francis Stewart was born in 1982 and lived his early years around Pakuranga in East Auckland. A day dreamer as a child he spent most of his time drawing old sailing ships and reading comic books, influences still seen in his work today. His family relocated to Grey Lynn in 1996 an he started attending Metro with his older sister Harriet. During this time he forged many key friendships that stand to this day and this was the start of his graffiti career and the basis for forming the Grey Lynn institution which is the RFC crew with friends Gasp, Sens and Vino. Elliot immersed himself in inner city life, a stark contrast to the pace and vibe of the eastern suburbs, quickly making Surrey Crescent, Grey Lynn Park and K’Rd his everyday stomping grounds. After he was done with School he attended the Freelance Animation school with the hope of pursuing a career that would best utilise his incredible skill in cartoon style illustration but found animation mundane and soul destroying, opting instead for a career in smoking, drinking tea and drawing all day, all night, not content with being OK or good but incredible. Along the way Elliot got up like every writer should but always went about it in his own manner, dropping drunken tags galore and spontaneous street drawings of fat men, sausages and chickens. Despite a fear of flying, Elliot has painted throughout the north and south islands and last year travelled with his crew, TMD to Europe to compete in the world Write4Gold final, spending the month leading up painting everyday. It was said on many occasions during the travel that Elliot Francis Stewart could be one of the best artists in his area of graffiti and illustration, few could really argue!
Born in 1979 and the oldest of 6, Askew spent his early days living in Palmerston North, moving with his mother and stepfather to Auckland city in 1985 during Hip Hop’s initial explosion in the inner city neighbourhoods. An imaginative, extroverted if not slightly hyper-active child, Askew always made a point of being the best and loudest at anything he tried, ultimately always attracting attention to himself, positive and negative alike. It made sense that graffiti would become his destined path in life, first dabbling with tags around Morningside in 1993 during his first year at Western Springs College. After some conflicts at school (sparked by his first graffiti beef) he did a year of correspondence, learning to be independent and responsible for his own studies. When the time came to go back to a public school both he and his parents felt Metro would be a good choice due to it’s flexibility and relaxed atmosphere. During his 6th Form year he learnt many vital lessons about working the system and thanks to a supportive art teacher was able to paint his 6th form certificate and bursary art work in spray paint. This definitely shaped his approach to life, art and business. A hard working artists and jack of many trades his achievements during his 14 year career are too numerous to list but involve everything from graphic design, large outdoor graffiti events, art shows, music, exhibiting in and curating art shows and making NZ’s first official graffiti magazine. During this time he has remained a relentless force in the local writing community and key member of the TMD crew. He has travelled and painted throughout New Zealand, Australia, UK and Europe becoming one of a dedicated core of world famous NZ writers. All of this he has achieved before the age of 28.
Misery, Elliot and Askew now reunite once more as friends, artists, and compadres to bring together one of the most ground-breaking collaborative shows of the year at Qubic Store Gallery. Three of NZ’s most talented artists in their fields will showcase their work in this first-of-its-kind show that has been over 11 years in the making. I’ll be at the show this week and we’ll ensure we have coverage of the finished work and the event here at Slam.
Opening night: Thursday 22nd November – 7PM
Show on Display until Sunday 2nd December 2007
QUBIC STORE GALLERY