Kia ora, I am Debbie Porter, proud owner of Into The Wild NZ, run in Christchurch & Canterbury, New Zealand.​
I have lived in Waitaha Canterbury for the majority of my life apart from a couple of short stints living overseas. (Born in Blenheim) but growing up in Oxford, we drove through the Styx Catchment area many times, as our gateway to Christchurch City, and still enjoy going to area, mostly for outings to Willowbank. (It is an area that I would love to live in, but there wasn't anything available in our price range when we were rental hunting). After Oxford, in my early 20s, we moved to Sumner and then over to Diamond Harbour for about 10 years, then have been living in Saint Martins in Christchurch for the past year and a half. I love living amongst and being surrounded by nature whenever possible and have been lucky enough to have lived in beautiful areas that are perched on the edge of either the country and mountains or the waters edge.

I do art and illustration for the love of it, and love to make these into art prints, greeting cards, and plenty of other products for people to enjoy and share. I have been selling my work locally via small art co-ops and markets for the past 10+ years, with the occasional contributions to group exhibitions around the country that I join with when I see something fun, or engaging and have a bit of spare time to contribute.

I have also been working as a freelance Graphic Designer over the past 10 years. working with smaller community groups, artists and businesses. Which has been an awesomely fun way to earn a living, getting to interpret someone else's brief and goals into engaging visual content. This work has been very project based, and I am used to getting a body of work together for specific deadlines.

Over the past couple of years, I have taken my love of art, and working with other artists to different places; creating artisan pop-up shops and exhibitions. This stemmed from a place of wanting to create a supportive and inclusive environment (as we were part of groups that were the opposite to this) for artists - a safe place to support and respect each other's differences. I intially teamed up with another artist to do this for a short term pop-up project over the winter months, that we extended due to it's success. We held wellness workshops as well with a variety of artists tutoring the public with short creative classes to warm up the winter months. This was a beautiful, amazing environment that we created, with over 80 artists and makers involved. The project was open to the public for 6 months and lasted about 11 months from concept to completion for us co-ordinators. 
I then threw another pop-up shop and exhibition for Christchurch Pride in 2022 which was open to the public for a couple of weeks, and I had about 50 artists and makers working with me. After this, I rebranded, and planned to open up a longer term shop in the same space (the other pop-ups were operating out of Cathedral Junction in the city) but it unfortunately fell through, so I pivoted and created an online shop, celebrating and selling around 40 artisans work. I have had a couple of pop-up shops and exhibitions since then - in the Life in Vacant Spaces Incubator Container in the centre of Christchurch in December 2022, where I squeezed 40 artisans's work into a shipping container shop, and more recently, another Pride exhibition and Pop-up Shop this year in March, where I had 75 New Zealand artisans work squeezed into Art Hole. I have since been stepping back from large scale pop-ups the second half of the year, and have been doing occasional market stalls under Immer Farbe, selling around 40 artisans work.

When I throw these pop-ups and exhibitions, I am the project manager, planner and co-ordinator as well as everything else inbetween, curator and exhibitionist - handling, hanging and displaying everyone's work (usually with super short set-up periods), running the shop and exhibition every day, packing down and also responsible for all of the admin work - artist payments, communication, etc and doing the graphics and social media the whole way through as well. It is a super busy role, but super gratifying and the end of the day to see so many talented people's beautiful and stunning work interacting and displayed altogether in one space.

You can see a bit more on these projects by visiting the Assembly Point and Immer Farbe pages in the Graphic Design part of the site. There are photos of the projects at the bottom half of their respective pages.
Why I'd love to be a creative communicator/ artist in residence for this project
While I absolutely love creating and running exhibitions and pop-ups with other artists, it has meant that my own work has taken a bit of a backseat over the past years (even though I do some new creations and works for each pop-up), and I am itching to just dive into a creative process again.
I would love the opportunity to have an artist residency for the Puharakekenui/Styx River project. I am jumping at this opportunity, because it is rare to have a paid artist residency in Christchurch (which is really awesome to see). It would be such an amazing opportunity to get paid to do my own art without the client's wishes and limitations hanging over the process as much as it usually is doing graphic design work, and being able to input my views and takes on the subject matter a bit more into the actual work. (Although totally happy to work with you and your goals and what would work best for your project with my collaboration).

I also really love our beautiful country and nature, ecology/ flora and fauna, and would love the opportunity to celebrate, explore and contribute to this via my passion of the visual arts in your beautiful neck of the woods.
I believe that we need to be looking after our land and waterways, for our future, and for those living in and around them. I think it's really awesome that you want to encourage the community to come and engage and learn with this environment and to have them getting involved, so that we can all learn to take ownership and resposibility for our land and waterways. The property that we are currently living in in Saint Martins, is by the Heathcote river, and we also have a natural spring and waterway running through our backyard (and I feel that learnings that I take from this project if accepted, would be something that I could bring home as well).
You can visit the rest of my website by clicking on the links in the left hand navigation (or in the mobile phone menu if you're on a phone). This will show you a bit of some of my recent work - illustration, photography and graphic design, as well as some other products that I have made and other projects and exhibitions that I have been a part of. I mainly have done illustrative art work in the past years, but also have a love for mixed media works, and experimentation. More recently over the past year, I have been working with air-dry clay, which has been fun, but not something that I am looking at using for this project, if successful in my application. I have a great love of flora and fauna, and it is usually the subject matter of my work, hence where the name "Into the Wild" comes from.
I would love to make a variety of work from digital (and potential printable collateral for you to use) to physical mixed media artwork. I am not specifying exactly what works they will be, as waiting to respond to being at the Catchment, and taking inspiration from it when I am there, as well as taking inspiration from discussions with you, if successful in the process, and to also see what you already have onsite, and what the other artists have done, to see how and where I can add value, or contribute to cover areas/ themes that may not have been covered already.

I enjoy making work that has a bit of a learning theme about it too (most recently, working on making some language cards) and would totally be interested in making some fun and engaging visual content and learning material for the project to share with the community. (How this would be presented at the end of or during the project would be dependent on budget). And if there is no budget for printed collateral, (or you may prefer this method) then this could be put across digitally; either as PDFs, Slideshows, Animations, YouTube content, or even perhaps online on a website, or within your website. Anything that is digitally interactive like this could also be accessed while people are exploring the catchment area, by placing QR codes around the place that they can access by scanning their phones.

I am wanting to do some experimentations with animation and my drawing tablet, so could perhaps do a mini visual artwork/ presentation of some stories and information surrounding the catchment. This could potentially also be mixed media (depending on my inspirations) with a mixture of photography and illustrated animation.

I would also really love to get into making some physical work, as technology has ruled my life quite a bit and the artist in me is wanting to get off of the computer and drawing tablet for a while and muck in with making some physical works too. Whether this be using recycled and found materials, or materials that I already own, and using those. These pieces could be art pieces on and or using cardboard, found or second hand pieces of wood, fabric and textile mixed media pieces (see gallery down the page relating to this), and maybe even paper mache mixed media pieces. I also have plenty of canvases that are sitting waiting to be used in my cupboard. There is of course the possibility for more or different work than what I have listed here, but it is an example of a few mediums that I would love to use and experiment with in my art. I imagine I would find more found materials or inspiration if I were to be at the Catchment.
I am also very open to incorporating Matauranga Māori into my work, and would love to use it as a learning opportunity for myself, and hopefully sharing that through the works for others to learn from. 

I would be happy to have an exhibition at the end of it, that could include the myriad of mixed-media works created during the project period. As well as having a bit of a talk and or/presentation to discuss processes and learnings about the Catchment. But I am also open to other possibilities that may change due to what you're after, or what direction the work takes when I am there or after discussions with you, and to see which audience you think would benefit from the direction of my work - be it adults or children, or both.
Below is some work that I thought I would share with you, extra to the what is in my public website portfolio.
This is an art piece that I did a few years ago called "Degradation" - it is a triptych that follows a visual narrative of what will happen in Aotearoa if we don't look after our waterways. Starting with a richer initial image, depicting a vibrant sky and waterway, the second image is depicting a "sick" system, and the third is the result, of pollution, with waste (polystyrene and plastic) in our waterways, and all signs of vibrant life, gone. A very scary potential future, for our beloved flora and fauna.

This piece was an experimentational piece - being one of the first art pieces using a digital drawing tablet.
The images below are experimentations with textiles and art. 
The first image is a felted embroidery kererū prototype. I would love to do more of these, and with different birds, animals and plants and have intentions (but haven't had the time) to explore this more. I would also love to incorporate found objects into this that corresponds with our land and sea (such as sea shells as necklaces for the birds). If doing this for the catchment project, I would love to make some inspired by the flora and fauna of the Styx catchment. 
The other images are of a "beanie' - made for artistic purposes, and not to actually wear. Which was exhibited in a group exhibition in Otago in 2019 in response to the theme ‘‘in our element — wind, earth, fire and water". My beanie's interpretation of the theme was around climate change, and the effects that it is having on communities around the world, but how the power of community, and support of various countries can come together and respond to these weather and climate events and helpingt those affected by them. 
It was really fun to experiment with putting this message across in a medium that I hadn't worked with before - and illustrating and painting onto textiles, as well as handsewing these pieces together. Apart from the beanie fabric itself, all of the other textiles were recyled scraps that were leftover from other projects.
I again, also plan to (but haven't for the lack of time) experiment in these mixed media textile art projects again), on a larger scale wall hangings, and have a collection of fabrics at home, be it from old projects or old clothing that I plan to use for this. I would also love to be able to do an artwork of this kind as a piece of wall art inspired by the catchment.
I look forward to potentially working with you. 
Ngā mihi, 
Debbie Porter
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