Amber Rhodes

My Father: Artist, Creative, Human, Teacher

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My Father Pat Hanly was the person I adored the most when I was a child. I know we should never have favourites as parents and children, and I have no wish to hurt or disregard ALL the other incredible people whom I love and have loved, however perhaps it was the knowledge that I would always be leaving him that made me feel that much stronger about him. Each time was finite.

I’ll never forget him saying to me when I was very young ‘Shall we go up my Mountain?’ he meant Maungawhau/Mt Eden, and in my childhood mind I understood this literally, thus I imagined him to be the generous benefactor of this most magnificent jewel in the crown of Auckland city... He would take me up the mountain with his wild hair springing out about his head, and fly a kite, or talk about the issues of Nuclear Free New Zealand (I remember when he placed a No Nukes sticker on the Trig and I was wordlessly proud and awed that he was so fearless and passionate about what he believed in). Or he would point out to me all the beautiful places in Auckland, the Waitematā and Manukau Harbours, the Waitakere Ranges, the islands, the airport, where he would take me to watch the tiger moths, or he would simply lie on the grass on the mountainside, upside down to get a new view of the world, to see things differently. It wasn’t until later that I realised he did not own it, actually, but what was a great generosity that he gifted to me, was the ability to see treasures around us as our own and therefore important to who we are, where we place ourselves and our responsibilities. The other side of that is that he felt injustices keenly, which enabled him to be such a great voice of protest and political statement through his art.

In terms of creativity and of the individual voice, I can only speak of my own experience. He ALWAYS empowered me, ALWAYS championed me, he enabled me to be a confident person by proclaiming regularly that I could do anything I chose, which I have most definitely done, I have always followed my own path, and in each of our lives, these paths can change, we encounter situations that may change our perspective or drive our passions in another direction as I have found on my own journey.

But always the voice of Dad has been behind me, telling me I am worth it, I can do anything I put my mind to, to look at the world with a new perspective, with a new intention, with renewed hope and passion for the possibilities. Never more so has this been truer in my own life than right now, as I, at the age of 37, DON’T wish to ‘drive through Paris in a sports car’ as the mournful Ballad of Lucy Jordan cries.

The Pat Hanly Art Awards were created to acknowledge the voice of young people, he respected and encouraged those voices, indeed when he ‘retired’ as an artist, he said it was 'to make way for the new generation of artists'. Youth and art and new ways of seeing were things he honoured and cared about and wished to give a platform to.

His spirit is near as I embark on my next career as a student at The University of Auckland with deep enjoyment and love of History, Art History and Creative Writing, and the joy of being in a position where each day I am challenged and lit up inside with the possibilities that creativity can bring to life within each one of us – if we choose to take the leap, turn the view upside down, and trust in the humanity. If we are switched on to the creative magic within each one of us, then we can effect change in the world around us.