Paddock Art Series #3: Human Canvas

Jan 12, 2018 | Art, Paddock Art Series

Yuli Heled’s Effigy-inspired piece from Kiwiburn 2017. Photo by Yuli Heled.

You are the Canvas at the Grand Bizarre!

By Hayley Ware


The third in the Paddock Art Series is here! This time I’ve been talking to Yuli Heled, an accomplished body painter who will be bringing her talents to the Paddock for us all to enjoy!

“What I’m doing is buying a bunch of body paints, bringing them to Kiwiburn and then dong a different body painting piece on each sunny day.”

After which the beautifully painted canvases will wander around the Paddock so everyone can enjoy Yuli’s art!

She’s stepping up the painting for Kiwiburn this year.

“Last year at Kiwiburn I painted just a half piece on one of my friends, based on the scenery at Kiwiburn, and so this year I sort of went, let’s do this in a more official manner and do more of it and do full pieces and get some funding for it as well.”
Yuli got an Art Grant which has allowed her to get a range of good quality, body safe paints. They’re expensive but are worth it, both for the safety of the models and because “It’s easier to make cool things with good paint”.

Each piece will be a whole-body painting, which is quite a significant undertaking.

“I’m thinking around four hours, that’s probably the minimum for a full piece […] You would be surprised how long it takes to just cover and paint even the tiniest person cause it’s just a lot more surface area than you expect. Every part, no matter how thin it is, goes all the way around.”

How did she get into body painting?

“I kind of fell into it. There were annual body art shows that were like showcase competition things and my folks would always go and see them, and I must have been 14 when I was tagging along with them and I went, right, ok, I’m gonna try that next year. So I tried it the next year and didn’t like what I made very much, but each year that I did it I liked the thing that I made more and more. Since then I’ve just been looking for as many opportunities as possible to do it! […] I pick things up from people but I’ve never done any proper formal training or anything like that.”

Yuli’s looking forward to participants engaging with the painting process.

“Kiwiburn is [a great] opportunity where nudity is pretty acceptable so you can actually do the painting bit in public, cause there’s not many places you can do that.
“I’m hoping that people will wander over and be curious about body painting in general and which paints you use and how to use them and how the process works and all that jazz. That’s the nice thing about people being able to watch the process is that they can come and ask questions about the process and come and chat to me or chat to the models or whatever.”

What are her designs going to be?

“I will either design [the pieces] beforehand or make something up on the spot based on whatever vibe is around […] The Grand Bizarre is a great theme so it would be fun to do something in theme with that. The other things are like taking the colour palette of say the Paddock and the river and whatever and making something out of that. Otherwise I’ll have to design maybe some wacky things that have nothing to do with Kiwiburn whatsoever and make them as well, and just have diversity, that would be good.”

Who are the canvases?

“I’ll mostly be painting on my friends cause my friends are happy volunteer canvases but also hopefully we’ll have enough sunny days for anyone that wanders by and goes ‘ooh can you paint me?’
“It’s actually a really nice thing about body painting is that there’s nothing really prescriptive about the body shapes that do it. Sometimes the design matches better for a woman, sometimes for better a man, sometimes better for a flat person, sometimes better for a curvy person and it really can be all kinds of different things, which I think is quite nice, there’s no like external thing tell you what should be beautiful, it’s just what’s practical for the particular shapes you wanna make.”

Look out for Yuli’s colourful creations on the Paddock!

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