by Helen Martin
At this year’s Art Kaipara Members’ Exhibition, held at Helensville Art Centre in September, painter Kristina Priest won the People’s Choice award with her painted table featuring a beautiful white horse. Now, following the successful Making Music exhibition, held as part of Labour Weekend’s Arts in the Ville, Kristina is one of three artists whose work comprises the Centre’s new Emerging Artists exhibition. Kristina and fellow emerging artists Heidi Van Duyn and Jennie McGregor have each donated a painting, which can be viewed at Te Awaroa Café. Raffle tickets for the paintings are on sale at the café and the sale proceeds will go to riding school owner Sandi Rayner’s dog rescue operation.
Coming from a family of painters, Kristina has always painted. Like the rest of her family she has also always been an animal lover and has taken her favourite subjects from nature – mostly flowers, animals, birds and landscapes - so it’s no surprise that the first painting she sold was of two lovebirds. What is remarkable is that the venue was a Pumphouse art exhibition and that she was just 11 at the time.
The family lived for a short time at South Head when her father Selwyn Priest was Principal of Waioneke School. Kristina attended Rangitoto College, where she enjoyed her art to the extent that she still has her Form 5 art folder. On leaving school she worked for the North Shore Times, then other companies, as a graphic artist. Being made redundant last year gave her the impetus a few months ago to become a fulltime artist, painting a range of subjects but specialising in pet portraits. “My business is called Captured Animal Art, and people often commission a painting of a pet that has died. I like to capture the character in the animal’s eyes, and most of my customers cry when they see them because they look so lifelike,” she says. She is also finding her artwork painted onto repurposed objects like tables is popular.
The horse is a favourite subject, and when she’s not painting them, Kristina is riding them. From pleasure-riding as a child, Kristina has progressed to owning land just out of Helensville for her horses and has just joined the New Zealand Cowboy Challenge Association, a club which holds events to “test horsemanship and communication from the rider to their horse through negotiating a series of obstacles”.
As Captured Animal Art Kristina can be contacted on Facebook and on her website www.capturedanimalart.wixsite.com/artist