Peter Vangioni | Hellzapoppin’ The Art of Flying Nun

Written by on 16 August 2021

This Friday sees Te Puna O Waiwhetu host the opening of Hellzapoppin’ The Art of Flying Nun. Curated by self-proclaimed ‘codger’ Peter Vangioni; Hellzapoppin focuses on the ‘Christchurch years’ of Flying Nun, since its inception in Ōtautahi in 1981.

Peter spoke to Violet French about his relationship with Flying Nun, from his formative years, to being in the drivers seat, as curator of the exhibition.

Peter Vangioni

The scene begins with a 16-year-old Peter in Palmerston North, who first heard “Turning Brown and Torn in Two” by the Tall Dwarfs on Radio With Pictures, which Peter says “was a bit like MTV…but a friends’ older brother had ALL the Flying Nun records, so I got to borrow them, and then found out where to buy them. That’s how I learnt to play the drums, listening-again and again. I can only do four-to-the-floor.”

Peter moved to Otautahi in 1988, to be a part of the fold, but discovered that Flying Nun had already moved to Auckland by that point. Things worked out in his favour though; the local bands were something else. Of the Flying Nun roster, Peter cites Snapper as a favourite;

You know there’s all the jangly guitar, and the Dunedin Sound, but then Snapper came along, and it was distorted, and Christine Voice was playing the keyboard, and doing all the artwork. Dunedin Sound, that’s a great label for it, but there were a lot of great bands down there then.

Peter Vanginoni

The art is what we’re here for, and what Hellzapoppin’ is all about. The exhibition takes over four spaces at Te Puna O Waiwhetu, featuring the work of David Mitchell, Lesley McLean, Robin Neate, Ronnie Van Hout, Stuart Page and the gallery’s very own John Collie- to name but only a few. Artwork which stalwart of the scene Ronnie Van Hout “still thinks of as throw-away” and describes as “BYO- bring your own, rather than DIY.”

Exhibition goers can expect to see a mix of original and reproduction gig posters, photographs, original album art, and video material- not to mention live performances from Die! Die! Die!, The Remnants, The Bats, Jay Clarkson and the Containers, and Mermaidens.

Festivities begin at 6pm with RDU DJs spinning Flying Nun hits and misses in the beer garden. Live music kicks off in the main foyer from 7pm. Special guests include a three-metre-long projection of the Gordons’ spaceman.

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