PPG Paints — meet the Makers

Selected Kiwi artists and designers have joined with PPG Paints to create their own bespoke collections. Photographer Mark Smith joined us to share his view of the world and his colour palette.

Mark, when did you realise you wanted to be a photographer? I first thought I might want to pursue photography when I was nine years old. Our family owned a Diana camera and I loved the idea that I could make a record of our life in Havelock North.

What was your path to becoming a pro? I studied photography at high school, then went on to do a photojournalist cadetship at the Hawke’s Bay Herald-Tribune. That was followed by a stint at the New Zealand Herald in the mid-1980s, and I’ve been operating as a freelance photographer ever since.

How would you describe your aesthetic? Light and colour are vital to my photography. I try to find something interesting in the ordinary, and to tell a story. 

MAIN IMAGE Mark gains a lot of inspiration from books, particularly photography ones, and says the orange hue in his PPG Paints palette, Rescue, reminds him not only of the colour of buoys and lifejackets spotted at the beach, but also Penguin paperbacks. He’s always been fond of this colour, so it pops up in other moments in his home and garden (above). TOP PPG Paints Seaweed on the wall in Mark and Lucy’s guest room.

What kinds of projects do you pick up? My career has spanned more than three decades, so my photographic endeavours have been diverse. I cut my creative teeth in photojournalism before going on to work for magazines, and continue to shoot frequently — from commercial photography for a tight roster of clients, to exhibiting my personal work and collaborating with other artists.

You work from your home in Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland’s Mission Bay — what’s that like? I live with my partner Lucy Stone and our son Jack, and Lucy’s elder son Tom when he’s home from university in Wellington. I love our home, the 1960s era it was built in and being close to the sea. We’re also fortunate that we inherited a beautiful garden from the previous owner, and I try hard to maintain his vision. 

There’s a lot of artwork on your walls — is art a significant part of your creative life? Yes, it’s a passion that began with my mum, who was a music teacher. She was open to learning about all of the arts, and I guess I was inspired by her. My sister Deb Smith — a photographer and founder of Cloud Workshop, an art workshop for bereaved children and those with life-threatening illness in their family — has also been a strong influence, and hugely encouraging of me over the years.

TOP & MIDDLE PPG Paints Shepherd’s Delight on the wall in the loo, along with a painting by John Reynolds. Mark’s PPG Paints palette was inspired by his love of the environment, including the sky at Bethell’s Beach/Te Henga. ABOVE PPG Paints Mr Robin in the couple’s bedroom

You’re also a keen reader and cook and, of course, there’s the gardening — do these pastimes help you switch off once you down tools? I don’t really separate being on or off — my photographer’s eye is always on.

You mentioned that colour is central to your work — what role does it play in your home life? Colour is hugely important to me. At home, it offers a sense of calm and a place of harmony to retreat to. I saw the chance to become a PPG Maker as an opportunity to recognise what palette of colours is meaningful to me and the reasons behind that, and I really enjoyed it!

What colours did you create? PPG Paints Shepherd’s Delight, Inky, Mr Robin, Blue Smoke, Seaweed and Rescue all reflect my appreciation of the environment, and in particular my connection with Auckland’s west coast at Bethells Beach, where my family has a cottage and I surf. The expansive sky; the dramatic, iron-rich sand that turns inky blue-black at low tide; the green of kikuyu grass; and the bright orange of a rescue buoy hanging at the bottom of a cliff are among the things I’ve captured in my PPG Paints palette.

How do you envisage these hues being used? I think they’re quite universal colours that can resonate with most people. They work well with the architecture of my own home, and help to unify and uphold its integrity. My approach to bringing them into the house was to use them to create an environment that we love. Mr Robin is on the walls and ceiling of our bedroom, Shepherd’s Delight is on the walls and ceiling of our toilet, and we used Seaweed in a guest room and Blue Smoke in the bathroom. They bring me feelings of warmth and tranquility, and I hope they’ll do the same for others.

Make-it-work mood board

ABOVE, BACKDROP Tapioca fabric, $72/m, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT Cotton Waffle towels, from $20 each, Arnoldino stool by Martino Gamper, $150, Glenbrook Slim Subway Gloss tiles, $110/m2, Galet carpet, POA, Petit Standard chair by Hay, $890, Soho fabric, POA, Ech candleholder, $111, Craft Tape basket, $235, Bamboo Silk Blend rug, from $3595, Mini Mosaic tiles, $514+GST/m2, Vessel by Jane Burn, $500,

PPG Paints Makers colours are created by New Zealand artists and designers, and exclusive to Bunnings;

Words Philippa Prentice
Photography Mark Smith & Deborah Smith

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