The importance of a Pirate Ship

The Electric FencepostArt, Grants, Kiwiburn, Volunteer

home made Pirate ship on a hazy lake

How to make Art Grants work for you, by Pete Lumos Wyatt

It is January 2008 in a paddock next to the Mangakino MX track, in the middle of the North Island.

I am here because my friend Polly Lind suggested I should be. There are 182 people here, mostly youngsters, and I only know a couple of them. 

Currently my impression of art is that it is stuff in galleries made by pretentious artists. But that’s about to change.

One of the participants, Rich D Rich, has built a pirate ship called The Dodgy Roger. It measures about 6m x 2m and is floating at the edge of the lake as a cool art project. I love it, and my son Daniel and I spent lots of time there helping create fun with our new Burner friends. Yet I feel it needs more, it needs to be able to move away from the shore under its own power, it needs… a motor!

After a conversation with its creator about this, he says, “Yeah fine, do it, it’s yours, I have other plans”. So now my mind is full of pirate ship plans for Kiwiburn 2009.

On burn day 2008, I get involved with my neighbours to help create an effigy that will burn with the main effigy.  I realise that I am now an artist and it is pretty painless. My life has changed forever.

During 2009, I applied for and received an Art Grant from Kiwiburn to help update the Pirate ship. I purchased and borrowed safety gear, a fire extinguisher, life jackets, an anchor, mooring rope, paddles for backup, and, most importantly, a small 2hp outboard motor. My floating art project was now mobile, and I was captain of my own pirate ship. I was well and truly hooked into being an artist!

For the next five years, The Dodgy Roger sailed around that lake and evolved in many ways, including a complete replacement of the main hull (partly funded by a Kiwiburn Art Grant) after it was stolen from where it was stored on the Paddock. Kids of all sizes battled each other, walked the plank and went for rides up and across the lake at all times of the day and night. Once it was even hijacked by some drunk friends who managed to unlock it from the shore, but could not start the motor because I kept hold of the only key. After much swimming and paddling, they made it safely back to shore.

In 2014, Kiwiburn moved to its current site, and because the river was not suitable for the pirate ship to float in, we transformed it into a land pirate ship. That was the last time the pirate ship was used. It was a sad time, though life moves on, and I had to build a new mutant art vehicle… Mad Max’s time had arrived, yet again with some help from another Kiwiburn Art Grant. 

An Art Grant will help you fund the creation of your art project, which is immensely rewarding and fun, though it may still empty the pockets of those involved. So yeah, I have always found it worth all my time and money to be ‘An Artist’. There is so much joy in watching others interacting with your project. I have brought multiple art projects of various sizes to Kiwiburn every year and only twice has somebody deliberately damaged it. While  that did upset me, it won’t stop me from making art for you all. 

Blessings Lumos