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A LiTTLE BACKGROUND…

“What is genius?
To become a boy again at will...”
[J M Barrie, creator of 'Peter Pan']

At the age of five, in his hometown of Timaru, Brent first started experimenting in what he now describes as “the condition of a cartoonist”. At age eleven, he started losing his eyesight due to a eye disease of the cornea. During this time (and consequent, repeated eye operations throughout his teenage years) he rediscovered his love for drawing; mostly because he couldn’t see to do much else! At sixteen, Brent had a successful corneal transplant in one eye, which made his life a lot easier. This is when he began conspiring to escape from small town New Zealand…

After leaving High School in the mid 1980’s Brent moved to Auckland to attend Homai College for the Blind. He had his fair share of “real jobs” to pacify his concerned parents, mostly as a telephonist; but spent a great deal of this time stealing paper from the office photocopier and drawing cartoons of his boss and colleagues. He also joined an amateur theatre group and began writing and performing poetry at a local folk club.

In 1988, Brent moved to the Capital in pursuit of “more creative work”. After three years of attending a local art school (and further developing his drawing and painting skills), he started running his very own workshops in cartooning (possibly the first in New Zealand); mixing earlier acquired skills in amateur theatre with a new-found love for teaching. Before long, he was touring these popular courses extensively throughout the country, working with kids and adults.

 

 

"Every child is an artist...
The problem
is how to remain an artist
once he [or she] grows up."
[Pablo Picasso]

 
 

 
  The workshops, entitled “Drawing On the Light Side of the Brain” ©, have been introduced into hundreds of schools and holiday programmes, several prisons, numerous libraries & art galleries and more recently (since 1996) into the corporate sector. Here, they have been very successful as innovative and fun tools for teambuilding, development and stress relief. Describing cartooning as a “tool for visual humour & international communication”, Brent has worked extensively with trainers, facilitators, teachers & presenters; showing them how this popular art-form can enhance their own training and presentations.

Brent has spent the last couple of years teaching art to people with both physical and intellectual disabilities, and also children autism. His workshops have been very well received in numerous retirement homes he has visited. And he has also started working with “at risk” children and teenagers.

When not teaching and facilitating his unique workshops, Brent enjoys performing a combination of live comedy, cartooning, storytelling and original poetry. He has written, directed and starred in three Fringe Festival stage shows in Wellington. “Icarus Had It Easy” at Bats Theatre in 1996; “The Garden Warrior’s Apprentice” at the National Library Auditorium in 1999 and most recently “Like Dr. Seuss on Steroids” at Turnbull House in 2002. In September of 2004, Brent brought together (and directed) a wide range of performers for a variety stage-show, entitled "Inner Constellations". This made its debut at the Soundings Theatre - Te Papa (14-16 Sept). He is currently "re-working" elements of this show, that he hopes to further tour into schools, theatres and retirement homes throughout New Zealand during 2006. And (eventually) to overseas Fringe Festivals as well.

Over the last twenty years, Brent has also produced four limited edition books of original poetry & cartoons. These have been very popular with both kids and adults, their reactions and feedback giving him more subject matter to work into his live performances. He recently released a limited series of cartoon greetings cards, which are selling well.

And also during 2004, Brent released a CD of original prose & poetry (a collaboration with Wellington musician & composer 'Twenty-Two'), based on subject matter from his Te Papa stageshow. This has attracted a lot more attention in his writing, both here and overseas.

Brent has been exhibiting his colourful paintings (seascapes & cartoons, influenced heavily by a Van Gogh exhibition he visited in 1993) throughout Aotearoa since leaving art school in the early 90's. One of the highlights of his career (as a visual artist) has been working on a group mural project at the City Gallery (in Wellington) in early 2001.

In 2005 Brent went on a life-changing trip to South America. While there he did some teaching and lots of drawing. And the future? Brent is currently working on an 'instructional DVD' (on cartooning, for kids) to be sold early next year… And a book of poetry & cartoons (to be published in Portugese) for the Brazillian market... He is also looking forward to releasing a collection of children's books, bringing together a blend of autobiography, prose and cartoon. The first of these is loosely based on his adventures in Brazil.

Since May 2008, Brent has relocated to Australia. Over the last three years he has continued to work with a diverse range of people. Everywhere from teaching animation students at TAFE (how to do storyboarding) through to working with street kids at OASIS Youth Centre in Surry Hills, Sydney.

Brent also has been very busy creating and exhibiting his work in various solo and group shows throughout Sydney. And he continues to be sought after by many organisations and companies as an entertainer. From May to December 2010, he was hired by the Westpac Bank in Newtown to provide entertainment for their customers and visitors. He has also worked at several high profile conferences. Brent was also very popular drawing cartoons earlier this year at the Illawarra Folk Festival.

In June of 2011, Brent has decided to move his base of operation to Melbourne.

"To send light into the darkness of men's hearts
—such is the duty of the artist!!"
[Robert Schumann.]

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All material on this site is © 2011 Brent M Harpur
and is not to be copied or reproduced without prior consent or excessive bribes of fine, exotic chocolate.