Marlborough artist named living cultural treasure

Artist Triska Blumenfeld, with her painting 'Marlborough Wine and Food Festival', has been named Marlborough's 2015 Living Treasure.

SCOTT HAMMOND / FAIRFAX FR

Artist Triska Blumenfeld, with her painting ‘Marlborough Wine and Food Festival’, has been named Marlborough’s 2015 Living Treasure.

A Marlborough artist whose primitive paintings caught the attention of a Hollywood star has been named Marlborough’s Living Cultural Treasure.

Triska Blumenfeld is the fourth recipient of the award established in 2012 by the Marlborough Museum in partnership with the Marlborough District Council and the Marlborough Express.

The award celebrates extraordinary, inspiring and important cultural endeavors in a lifetime.

The 88-year-old woman, who lives in Blenheim, said she was a “naive artist” who made colorful, real-life scenes of people her specialty.

“I have never done boring landscapes. For me color is very important.”

In 1998, she painted a large scene for the Marlborough Wine and Food Festival, recording the colors and the celebrations.

Many prints were made from this work, which promoted the festival around the world.

Blumenfeld never took any notes or made any preliminary drawings before painting.

Everything was from memory. “I like to put people in paintings that weren’t there but should be there.”

Old Express Journalist-cartoonist Henk Hilhorst usually came to the festival with his notebook. His death in 1991 was no reason for Blumenfeld to leave him out of his 1998 painting.

Other figures she captured in the painting included a Morris dancer, a garlic bulb imitator, and a group of Royal New Zealand Air Force cadets who showed up dressed in cotton sheets stamped by the airbase. , ready for an evening in a gown.

Marlborough Museum Managing Director Steve Austin, who is on the award’s selection jury, said his painting changed the national and international perception of Marlborough from a passive pastoral landscape to a dynamic new world.

“Her work gave Marlborough a revolutionary new visual identity that has gone international and is a milestone in the region’s branding, a legacy that still stands. Triska was a pioneer, whose works are appreciated. retain a broad appeal, and an ongoing connection to the present culture of Marlborough. “

The oil painting on canvas hangs in the Marlborough District Library in Blenheim. It has been preserved, extending its lifespan for another 100 years.

“One thing about the modern, primitive style is that it is very appealing to all cultures and all age groups,” Austin said. “It translates internationally.”

She became known in several countries as an exceptional artist working in a joyful and popular naive style.

Blumenfeld lived in Rome between 1970 and 1974 where Italian art critic Derna Querel included his works in a number of international naive art exhibitions.

In 1974, she moved to Fiji where she worked as an agricultural journalist. His work was promoted in the United States by Raymond Burr who starred in television and film classics Perry Mason, Ironside, Godzilla and Rear Window.

Blumenfeld said Burr lived part time on the island off the coast of Fiji.

“He was a flamboyant character who had a great acting career but he led a secret life. He had a wonderful house in Hollywood where I stayed. I went to all kinds of wonderful restaurants and met all kinds of people. people that I had only seen on the screen.You name them, I have met them.

Blumenfeld’s association with Marlborough began when she and her late husband, Grovetown olive grower Gideon Blumenfeld, moved to Marlborough in 1990.

She was nominated for the award by her niece Jennifer Wilkinson, who was researching her aunt’s life for a book on her life and work.

Blumenfeld will be presented with a medallion and cape, woven by Margaret Bond, in honor of her Living Treasure Prize at the Marlborough Museum next Friday.


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