Imaginary worlds delight at Expressions

Take a peek inside Upper Hutt’s Expressions Whirinaki Arts and Entertainment Centre this month, and you’ll find a motley crew staring back at you. Anthropomorphic animals and armoured warriors jostle for attention among robots, sirens, and a slew of monstrous creatures. Keeping guard: a five-metre-long dragon by the name of Drachenstein. He’d look formidable if he weren’t sleeping on the job.

Not that you can blame him. It’s hard work being the gatekeeper for more than 85 pieces of spectacular fantasy and sci-fi art.

If you have ever wanted to see what creative folk get up to in their spare time, Imaginary Worlds: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Art from New Zealand is your chance. The exhibition accompanies the release of Volume Three of the White Cloud Worlds anthology, created by Weta Workshop Concept Designer Paul Tobin (you can pick up a copy at Weta Workshop’s online store). Both are a testament to the power of human imagination.

“Imaginary Worlds profiles many of New Zealand's leading film, game and publishing artists. The work found both within the exhibition and the accompanying White Cloud Worlds book focuses not on the artist's professional work, but the worlds of imagination they create in their own personal time. Featuring traditional and digital work, their art spans both fantasy and science fiction themes executed with exceptional technical ability."

-Paul Tobin, Concept Designer, Weta Workshop

54 diverse artists have contributed pieces to the show, ranging from paintings, drawings and digital prints, to sculptures and sketches. The gargantuan sea turtles of Dane Madgwick’s Te Hononui lie just a stone’s throw away from Gus Hunter’s demon-infested fantasy landscapes. Over in Greg Broadmore’s world, a T-Rex lopes alongside a catsuit-clad bikie. On the morning I paid a visit, Johnny Fraser-Allen’s sculpture of Drachenstein was being swarmed by a group of delighted primary schoolers.

If you find that browsing the walls of Imaginary Worlds is starting to make your own walls seem a little empty, fear not: many of the works on display are for sale (albeit being rapidly snapped up). Or perhaps you were lucky enough to grab a ticket to Paul’s sold-out Concept Design and Illustration Workshop, in which case you’ll surely be creating your own works of art in no time.

With the exhibition running until February 8, there is still time for kids big and small to immerse themselves in Imaginary Worlds. When you pop in, give Drachenstein a gentle pat for us, will you?

Just don’t wake him up.

Johnny Fraser-Allen crouches next to his sculpture, Drachenstein

Greg Broadmore's Umami Monster

Photo, Linhan Ye

Made from recycled NZ rimu, Steve Lambert's Anseriane Cygniwoodus spreads its wings beside Heartwood 

Cory Mathis, Return of the Rex King

The White Cloud Worlds team, from left: Paul Tobin, Kate Jorgensen, Monique Hamon and Isaac Hamon

Copyright 2017 Weta Workshop