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Book benches and Darth Vader Gorillas? A chat with Mandii Pope

After moving to London for love all the way from Auckland New Zealand, 10 years on Mandii Pope is jumping at every opportunity to make art in the UK. Our columnist, Ngaire Ackerley interviewed Mandii about her life in the UK and her amazing artwork.



A Vivienne Westwood Spin Painting by Mandii Pope

What’s so great about being in the UK for you?

The competition is fierce here but I like that. When I achieve a goal it is much more satisfying. Opportunity exists everywhere in London and I work hard for it. There is always something exciting going on. It has not been easy by any means, however, after years of laying solid foundations it gets easier as time goes on and catching the stars is entirely possible. What I love about the UK is I can hire a van/jump on a train with artwork under my arm and have an exhibition anywhere in the UK/Europe (funds permitting) if I wanted to.

A lot of your work combines NZ and British subject matter with a variety of styles, are there any reasons why you do this?

I relate to both and it is my social network. I like to have an emotional connection to what I paint and create works that have an emotional connection to others. I don’t like being pigeon holed to any one style and prefer the challenge of keeping my skills sharp with a number of them. I find I have more opportunities with a wider skill set.

Is there anything you always try to convey in your artwork?

My artwork is a visual diary of my life. Most are emotive, some tell stories, some are educational, or something that has inspired and intrigued me. I do like to sneak in a small “something kiwi” on occasion. I keep my feelings and thoughts to myself, however I pour my heart and soul into my work with plenty of hidden messages. I paint my emotions into my artwork, upload it, then forget about it and move on to the next thing.


Cork Street Mayfair Solo Exhibition  


Tiki Blues Spin Painting 

Mandii has worked on charity-related projects a part of her work consistently since 2006 for various charities such as Hospice’s, Autism, the New Zealand Earthquakes, NZ Society to more recently the Wild in Art Book Benches for “Books about Town’ and the Wild in Art WW100 Trevor Warphin Dolphin for Wild Dolphins.

Can you tell us about your latest Wild in Art WW100 dolphin?

Wild in Art run public art projects all over the world. The Wild Dolphins project is in conjunction with 2 charities in Aberdeen. My grandfathers and great grandfather fought in both world warsWW100 Trevor Warphin is a mix of a number of WW2 planes from Britain, America and NZ and Scotland as a tribute to our forefathers and remembrance of WW100. I drew my inspiration from my Grandfathers and family friend Trevor Bland (Air NZ/Warbirds). There is a huge amount of information that makes up WW100 Trevor Warphin. You’ll have to watch the video on my website to find out more:

With WW100 approaching the subject matter is a current event of interest and I wanted a design to touch people’s hearts including my own.

trevor warphin

WW100 Trevor Warphin for Wild Dolphins Aberdeen 

Images of your ‘Darth Vader Gorilla’ project were used in the proposal for the ‘Wild in Art’ project to come to Christchurch, New Zealand for 10 weeks from November because you are the only Kiwi involved in the ‘Wild in Art’ projects.

Can you tell us about what this will mean for New Zealand and why you want to be involved?

The Great Gorillas raised £100,000, Norwich Gorillas £200,000, The Gromits (backed by Aardman Animations) raised £2 million. Imagine if Peter Jackson and all his worldwide contacts got behind this how much this project could potentially raise for NZ. There are 1 million of us expats overseas – just imagine if we all pulled together with our international resources how much this project could raise for various Christchurch charities, such as Christchurch Stands Tall. There is huge potential to raise millions if we all get behind this and maximise our expat corporate contacts. You can help by liking and share their FB page. Right now it’s 200+ let’s make it a million.

darth gorilla

Darth Vader Gorilla for the Great Gorillas Project 

You’ve been asked to paint one of the giraffes in NZ, it’s a long way to go to contribute for free. Are you seeking sponsorship or assistance to try make this become a reality?

It is. I’d love to come home for this! Or at least paint a Giraffe in London to be sent in cargo for the Launch in November. The Director of Wild in Art tweeted me recently, telling me to get my designs ready. I would need sponsorship and probably stay in a local camping ground if I went back to NZ. I love these public art projects and the fact it is in New Zealand raising funds for Christchurch, when expats held so many events here in London is very dear to my heart. I have so many exciting projects on the go here in London. Realistically my very short window I could leave London looks like October for 2-3 weeks unless I could paint the giraffe here. I’d just love be a part of this and bring the world’s expats attention to this incredible world class public art project about to grace our shores as it could raise millions. If you are not on board you should be, it’s time to jump on the Giraffe bus.

How would a potential sponsor get in touch with you?

I’m not hard to find, I’m on every form of social media. Email: [email protected], Facebook: www.facebook.com/mandiipopeart or twitter: @mandiipope.

Gorilla Darth Vader, Books that come alive in benches, dolphins turned into planes, what is next on the cards?

Bus sculptures, if I get one. Giraffes hopefully, finishing off Clarence House which The Duchess of Cornwall helped paint a few windows will be up for auction on the 4th of September at NZ House. A portrait of 2014’s New Zealander of the year Eric Tracey, 100 New Zealand themed spin paintings, various commissions, Darth Vader Gorilla cartoon strip, Yoda Duck for the Grand Norwich Duck Race. A 3rd BookBench for Books about Town. I was asked to create a 1.8m letter R spelling the word Aotearoa for a soon to be released epic high profile music video, but had to let that go because I couldn’t get back to NZ. I’m sure there will be more by the time this year is complete.

The Book benches can be found all around London from 28th June to 15th September. There are 4 mini trails. For more information go to www.booksabouttown.org.uk.

Both Mandii’s book benches are located on the Bloomsbury Trail – so keep an eye out for Agatha Christie and Narnia – The Lion the Witch & the Wardrobe!

bookbench Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie BookBench for Books about Town – London

bookbench Narnia

Narnia – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – Books about Town London 

If you are in Aberdeen check out @TrevorWarphin www.facebook.com/WW100TrevorWarphin for Wild Dolphins @WildDolphin2014

trevor warphin

WW100 Trevor Warphin for Wild Dolphins Aberdeen at The Putney Exchange

If you are in Norwich on the 2nd of August is The Grand Norwich Duck Race @norwichduckrace. Check out @DuckYoda:

duck yoda

 Duck Yoda

Ngaire Ackerley is a New Zealand travel/wildlife photographer and travel writer. She is available for freelance projects. Her work can be found online at http://designack.com and http://kiwifootprints.com.