My parents and I went on the plane from Christchurch to Auckland to go to see Adam Lambert and Queen. We stayed in an apartment and I had a room all to myself with a TV in it as well. Before we went to the concert we went into the restaurant for dinner and I had a burger for my meal.

Rochelle at the Queen Concert

After that we walked to the Spark Arena to see the concert and it was amazing with all the special effects and I sang and danced all night. Adam Lambert was very good at the concert. He sang the Queen songs brilliant and Queen were really good as well. I had the best experience at the concert because it was fun and I really enjoyed it and I knew all the songs.

Rochelle Waters

By Kymberlee Fernandes of Stuff

Charlize stands with her painting

She might only be 13, but one of her artworks has already earned almost $3000.

Charlize Wilson  was named the winner of the  2018 IHC Art Awards People’s Choice Award from the 400 art entries across the country.

The South Auckland Middle School student says art helps her “be herself”.

“I like doing art because it’s so much fun,” she says.

Her painting is called Looking Out from the Inside.

“The art is just a person looking outside. She is happy, she likes the view a lot,” Charlize explains.

Her award includes $1,000 in prize money, but then collected a further $1,650 after the piece was auctioned.

When Charlize found out she won, she says she  felt like “a superstar”.

Her parents say she’s been singing and dancing ever since she could walk and first started drawing and painting at eight.

She’s been surrounded by that kind of environment – music, performing arts, her dad Petia Wilson says.

“It was probably natural for her to just pick up a brush and paint. I’m really impressed and happy for her.”

The IHC Art Awards have run since 2004 and is open to all New Zealanders with an intellectual disability, age 13 or over.

Thirty of the top artworks were selected by judges Jae Kang, Tim Walker and Sarah Wilkins where the winner of the  People’s Choice category was then selected by way of online public voting.

Charlize will join her dad in his upcoming art exhibition where she will contribute some abstract art pieces. Her next work will be about a girl looking at her phone.

Her mum, Caroline, says Charlize has always been good with colours and the canvas is an opportunity for her to showcase her world.

“Because of the fact that she has Down Syndrome, she sees things quite differently,” she says.

“It’s exciting because it gives us an insight into her world, and maybe explains the colours, the strokes and the angles.”

There are plans to eventually build a collection that revolves around the theme of a girl looking through.

“It gives a different angle of the world.”

Copyright: Stuff

Becky stands with her art work

IHC Art Awards Gala Event at Shed 6 in Wellington. Photo by Mark Coote/

An intricately detailed drawing by Dunedin artist Becky Donovan (centre) has won the 2018 IHC Art Awards and $5000.

Becky’s piece, Cat, after Barry Cleavin, is a tribute to Christchurch-based printmaker Barry Cleavin. She used graphite to copy a Barry Cleavin image, and then experimented with erasing what she’d done. Her intricately detailed stalking cat has its skeleton visible in some places.

This is not the first time that Becky’s work has been featured as a finalist in the IHC Art Awards. Her drawing, Fashion Models, came second in 2016.

Becky works at the IDEA Services Art Space studio in Dunedin. Art Space hosts between 30 and 35 artists with an intellectual disability. Over recent years, a number of Art Space artists have been successful in the national IHC Art Awards – reaching the finals and winning top prizes.

Second prize of $2000 went to Amanda Brennan and third prize of $1000 was won by Colleen Bauer. For the third year in a row the top three prizes went to an all-female line-up of artists.

There were 428 entries in this year’s Awards. At the gala event Art Awards Ambassador Dame Denise L’Estrange-Corbet noted this resulted in a broad range of mediums. “As well as the sheer volume of artwork, I am particularly impressed by the wide variety of media and themes, showcasing the versatility and scope from the people here in this room.”

The top three prize-winners were picked out of 30 finalists nationwide and announced at Shed 6 in Wellington on Thursday 26 July. The finalists’ work was auctioned at the event, with all proceeds from the sales going solely to the artists.

The Down syndrome community in New Zealand includes huge numbers of Shortland Street fans and they were excited to see Jacob Dombroski become the first actor with Down syndrome to feature in one of the country’s iconic shows.

Jacob in reception at Shortland Street hospital

The Wellingtonian actor already has an impressive track record and performed his successful one-man dance, music and theatre show Big J Stylez at the Wellington Fringe Festival and Auckland’s Herald Theatre.

That is where he was spotted by Shortland Street producer Maxine Fleming who casted him for a three show guest appearance.

The 26-year-old played the character Winston who is the younger brother of Lincoln and Prince Kimiora.

Jacob acting a scene on Shortland Street

The talented actor and dancer told the Herald on Sunday that his character was “nice, chatty and always open hearted”.

He told the paper that he was lifetime fan of Shortland Street and that landing the role was a dream come true.

“I’m so happy about this opportunity and being able to challenge myself,” he told the Herald on Sunday.

The Big J Stylez show was a breakthrough moment for Jacob and shows his the struggles he faced growing up.

The show was created with Wellington theatre company Everybody Cool Lives Here, where Jacob gets the full support of the artistic brainstrust of Rose Kirkup and Nic Lane.

Shortland Street producer Fleming said that they were always looking for new voices and she had heard about Jacob’s outstanding performance in Big J Stylez.

“So we flew him up to discuss creating a guest role for him on the show as Lincoln and Prince Kimiora’s brother,” she told the Herald.

Jacob and a fellow Shortland Street actor


Duncan Armstrong claims Best Performance Award at Auckland Fringe Festival

Duncan Armstrong is back home after taking Auckland Fringe Festival by storm.

Duncan performing

The success was a while in the making but Duncan managed to take his performing arts career to the next level by a collaboration with Nic and Rose from Everybody Cool Lives Here.

Last September, director Isobel MacKinnon and Duncan started devising what became ‘Force Field’.

Using Duncan’s personal experience and ideas borrowed from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the pair took two weeks to create a story line for a 25 minute show and a character named Chris.

“Chris imagines someone there and then they find romance,” says Duncan. “To Chris, Fiona is a real character…she’s out there somewhere”.

In November the team expanded by recruiting a few designers and by mid-January the team was working full-time on the show.

“It’s fun and a lot of work, sometimes I get tired  from  it,” tells Duncan.

“Sometimes we have to take a break and then come back to it. Then you are refreshed and recharged.”

Duncan in character

Before heading up to Auckland, the team tested the work with a few invited guests, including Duncan’s mum, Max. Character parallels with real life included wanting to move out of home, a story line that may not best delivered to an unexpected mum on the opening night.

The Basement Theatre season ran for five nights and the team managed to stay with friends, giving Duncan a taste of living with flatmates.

After a week of catching up with sleep, the Auckland Fringe Awards were announced and Force Field took home four awards, including Best Director, Best Production Design, and Best Performance (Theatre) for Duncan.

Everybody Cool Lives Here followed the awards up by attending the annual Performing Arts Market where Duncan pitched his solo alongside Jacob Dombroski.

Fingers crossed it means a step forward to touring the works to regional theatres and festivals. A Wellington return season is definitely on the cards for Force Field, and Duncan is currently looking at what it might take to get the work to Edinburgh Fringe.

Duncan and his fellow actors