Dick Frizzell's long and storied career has often been intertwined with music, and he is no stranger to creating work for New Zealand musicians, from Dragon to Human Instinct and Ticket. This year he's a finalist in the artisan awards, along with collaborator Tim Harper, for his work on a charity album called Offerings, a collection of classic hymns sung by New Zealand performers.
The album was 17 years in the making and the cover features a band playing in a circle in the middle of a suburban street. Frizzell, whose Kiwiana themes have become iconic, describes the atmosphere as "plaintive" and notes the long grass on either side of the road. The inspiration came from conversations between producer Murray Thom and Tim Harper, and Frizzell, about Salvation Army bands playing in suburban streets in decades gone by, which Frizzell had "very vivid memories of".
"I was going for solemn. I mean, the grey sky tinged with the evening light," Frizzell says. "There's no accidents, mate. That wonky letterbox, everything's slightly forlorn, and the boy there with the shorts, which is autobiographical - that's actually me at 10 years-old, standing right there in the middle, anchored against that circle of black-clad figures.
"I got so carried away I started painting onto this tracing paper and then it got sillier and sillier and the paper was buckling and I kept on thinking 'I should trace this on to decent paper', but I couldn't stop and yeah, it was a giddy rush that one I tell ya.