The work of three prestigious New Zealand artists and the best drops from Hawke’s Bay’s premium winemakers have come together – and the result is spectacular.
Tonight, three magnificent one-off hand-painted methuselah (six-litre) bottles were unveiled ahead of their auction, which takes place at the Night of Us, a community fundraising event benefiting the Hawke’s Bay Foundation on Friday March 19, 2021.
Each bottle is a one-off – meticulously drawn, beautifully finished, and filled with exceptional wine donated by Tony Bish Wines, Te Awanga Estate and Te Mata Estate. Painters Dick Frizzell, Martin Poppelwell and Freeman White were given free rein to design whatever appealed, and have each created breathtaking works of art, which will soon grace private collections around New Zealand.
Tony Bish, who collaborated with Dick Frizzell – one of New Zealand’s greatest contemporary artists – says he was immediately drawn to the Night of Us initiative and couldn’t wait to get on board. “I loved the idea of an artist and winemaker collaboration, especially using the special large format bottles and with proceeds going towards a very worthy cause. I actually asked to be paired with Dick, having met him many years ago when he lived at Te Awanga. I have been a huge admirer of Dick’s work over the years – he is thoughtful, unique, intelligent and hugely talented.”
Deciding which wine to bottle was an easy choice. “We didn’t hold back!” says Tony. “The wine is from our finest vineyard, Skeetfield, which is old vine dry farmed Mendoza chardonnay. It’s a sensational block that produces a wine of concentration and power that has great longevity.”
Te Awanga Estate has been matched with artwork from Martin Poppelwell. Te Awanga Estate winemaker Rod McDonald has long been heralded for the success of his syrah, and in this case, has selected from the estate’s very best parcels harvested during the exceptional 2019 vintage. Martin Poppelwell is best known for his interpretation of text and familiar motifs. This work also showcases Martin’s longstanding interest in glazed ceramics, with ceramic elements included in the finished auction lot.
Finally, Te Mata Estate’s winemaker Phil Brodie and landscape artist Freeman White combine their talents in the third bottle up for auction. Te Mata Estate is one of New Zealand’s most distinguished wineries, and has chosen to bottle a “worthy sibling” to the internationally lauded Coleraine blend. The resulting cabernet merlot is a unique, truly elite blend celebrating Te Mata Estate’s finest available fruit from 2019. Freeman White is a significant artist with works on display nationally in both private collections and public art institutions. His contemporary take on classic New Zealand earth forms captures a warmth and sense of connectivity that few other artists have attained.
The Night of Us is a community fundraising project spearheaded by Hawke’s Bay business owners John (Mac) Macpherson and Kim Thorp, designed to benefit Hawke’s Bay Foundation. Mac says Hawke’s Bay Foundation – which uses the income from donated funds under careful investment to support charities and community initiatives within the Hawke’s Bay region – does exemplary work and needs more bequests, endowments and donations. “Giving through Hawke’s Bay Foundation means your gift is being used right here in the region we love, but in order to keep doing good – reducing poverty statistics, empowering families and encouraging growth – it requires ongoing support.”
The Night Of Us – to be held at Hastings’ refurbished opera house, Toi Toi – is already a sell-out event with profits going direct to Hawke’s Bay Foundation. Each exquisite six-litre art bottle comes with two additional unadorned methuselahs – one for the auction winner to enjoy, and a third to be presented to the artist who has freely given his time to the project.
Tony Bish says the sale of these very special bottles offers a rare opportunity to art collectors across New Zealand. “Both the artwork and the wine are truly sensational,” he says. “And it’s all for an excellent cause. We have many issues and challenges in our region, so it’s great to help where we can to build a stronger, healthier and more resilient community.”
Absentee bids can be arranged by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org