Native artscape being created in Clifton

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Film-maker and sculptor Mike Peters on top of Mt Chocolate, in Clifton.

A MASSIVE project is under way in Clifton, south Invercargill.

On what was once farm land, Mt Chocolate is rising from the grass and being transformed into native bush, which will eventually include a home and art studio.

The vision for this 1ha artscape has come from film-maker and sculptor Mike Peters and his wife Tracy.

The couple, who left Christchurch three years after the earthquakes, have already planted 1000 plants, and hope to eventually end up with 20,000 plants, including 200 different species.

Once mature, the bush will reach the height of electricity lines, and will be the main focus of the project, Mr Peters said.

“We are doing all the landscaping first, then we will put the house in… to be sited in the landscape like an art project.”

The kit-set farm shed-style buildings will be painted kakariki green, so the trees such as the rimu reds will stand out, Mr Peters said.

“The house is designed to make the trees look beautiful.”

The whole concept has been carefully thought out, even with a scree area for skinks to bask in the sun. It will have native plants to protect them from marauding cats, and a wetland area for other fauna and flora.

Asked why they chose Clifton, Mr Peters said it was the “best piece of land in Invercargill. The neighbours were absolutely lovely, and there was plenty of room for a big workshop”.

The corner section, on Avon Rd and Severn St, has already been landscaped with contours to give it a multi-dimensional look and they hope to complete the house this summer, and add more buildings, including an art studio, every year, including four major buildings and lots of smaller sheds.

Once complete, they eventually hope to seek legal protection via a QE2 National Trust Covenant for the property.

To explain and illustrate the Mt Chocolate project, Mr Peters is holding an exhibition at the South Alive Artspace, South City Mall, from Sunday, July 16, to Sunday, July 23, 10am-4pm. On display will be architectural models, landscape and botanical photography, design and construction drawings and a handmade book of the project. The models are working models used to work out the form and proportion of the interconnected buildings, how they will sit among the trees and look in the glowing skies.

A creative workshop, taught by Mr Peters and organised by Dyslexia Support Southland, for students who have dyslexia will also be held at the same time in the adjoining South Alive Hub.

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