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Hey Shannon. Are you ready?
Introduce yourself to the readers.
Hello readers! My name is Shannon Rush…
What’s been happening today? What does the average day for Shannon Rush consist of?
My average weekday consists of waking up far too early, feeding the cat, making lasagnes all day for the man, coming home covered in flour and then I either take a nap or read. Lately I’ve been tinkering away making soap sculptures.
What’s up with the soap sculptures?
Initially the idea came from watching Shawshank Redemption on Christmas night. Tim Robbins’ character receives a bunch of books donated for the prison library. The title of the book is “Soap Sculptures”.
It took me a while to get the hang of the medium. For a while we just had a lot of weirdly shaped soaps for the shower.
Ha-ha. You’re preparing for an exhibition too right?
Yeah, I’ve got a show coming up which will have all the soap sculptures on display as well as a bunch of plastic bags with illustrations on them. I think these two series will go well together. I haven’t had a show in a couple of years but the guys who run the gallery are really cool and it’s a good spot.
I always knew you as a kind of “rock n roll”, piss head type back in the day, then all of a sudden you are a well-known artist. Had you been drawing the whole time?
I grew up in a family of artists so I was always encouraged to be creative but eventually skating took over. When I was 21, I was living in Christchurch and had a lot of time on my hands. I started to get back into drawing with Kurt Green. Since then I haven’t really stopped. Jake Mein and Dave Read have been nice enough to support me through Manual Magazine when I’ve had things going on which helped keep me motivated.
What is/was the “Thunder Cats”?
I was living at James Wright’s place when I was around 17. Max Couling would come over from Greymouth and stay most weekends. One weekend he announced that we were all apart of this group called the Thunder Cats. We were really young and drinking a lot. We would go out of our way to cause trouble. I ended up getting arrested a bunch of times which was fucking stupid. To be honest, I’m surprised none of us ended up dead or in jail. Somehow James (Wright) managed to film his “4 Avenues” part during this time which was insane and is still mind blowing to this day.
Yeah it seemed like there was a lot of drinking, but a lot of gnarly skateboarding too. What a time to be in Christchurch! Everyone has been hyped on your recent drawings of movie covers! How did you get in to that?
I was in a bit of a rut with drawing and ended up doing a really rough copy of a Titanic shirt I have. I thought it was so hilarious that I picked a couple more terrible movie covers to draw. It wasn’t something I was taking seriously at the time but people responded really well to it and would request their favourite band or movie for me to draw. It kind of has this irony to it. Bad films being drawn really badly and serving no purpose whatsoever. Eventually I’d like to make a book or zine with all the whole collection when I have enough, so any requests are welcome.
There are so many cheesy movies to draw. It could be endless work for you.You mentioned your family being in to art. What kind of work do they do?
My Mum and Brother are painters, which is a medium I never touched.I grew up watching them. They were so talented that it kind of put me off.
Being new to sobriety, do you think it has helped you out with your work?
It has had a massive effect on my productivity. I just have too much time on my hands because I’m not out partying or in bed hung-over. Mentally, I can think clearer which allows me to come up with new ideas and my moods are more consistent. After being a heavy drinker for the past 10 years, I’m still taking it one day at a time. I haven’t had a drink in over 7 months, but at the same time I do miss partying because it was such a big part of my life.
It definitely seems like it has changed you for the better. I’m proud of you. Have you been skating much?
Thanks man, I’m feeling like a million bucks bro! I don’t skate anymore. Work and Art seems so come before skating these days which is a bummer. When I do get out I have a lot of fun but I suck and feel super old. It’s always good to see the boys when I’m out tho.
What was it like growing up in Christchurch? Coming from Oamaru, it was always the “Big City” for me.
Well, I actually grew up in Nelson, so Christchurch was the same for me as it was for you. I remember reading NZ Skateboarder Magazine and fanning out on everything. When I was a kid, I didn’t differentiate the American Pro’s and New Zealand skaters. They all felt the same. Gregg Timms may as well have been Josh Kalis. People from Nelson would move to Christchurch to study every year and would come back saying how amazing the city is. I ended dropping out of school when I was 14 and moving there when I was 16.Looking back on it now, I realise how special it was.That era was so influential on the whole New Zealand scene.
That’s rad you moved out at such a young age. There are so many shitty little towns in New Zealand that can really fuck you up if you don’t leave.
Oh man, for sure. A lot of the people I went to High School and skated with are full blown skinheads now. When did you leave Oamaru?
It’s gnarly huh. This dude I went to school with and his brothers are now in jail for murder! I left Oamaru when I was 18. I’d always be going on skate trips to Dunedin and Christchurch tho. I always saw my hometown dragging everyone down. It’s a huge problem in New Zealand.
Yeah it’s really depressing. Doesn’t NZ have one of the highest youth suicide rates in the world? This dude I went to school with killed the father of his ex girlfriend then marched down the street yelling “Romper Stomper”!! Small town shit.
What was it like growing up with James Wright? He was one of the best skaters in the world when he was like 17.
Oh man, it’s insane for me to look back on it. James was so young when he filmed his “4 Avenues” part. I remember we would all be waiting outside to go out skating and we’d watch him through his window choosing between two outfits that he’d put aside the night before. He is the best skater to come out of New Zealand in my opinion.His attention to detail and trick selection was just flawless.
Oh 100% the best to come out of New Zealand. I just remember the Nationals at Washington Skate Park when he won the Open and Best Trick. It was mind blowing to see such style and finesse in real life. I also remember you guys seriously fucked up at the comp, ha-ha.
I don’t remember much from that day.
I was mad young, just looking at you guys and thinking “so this is New Zealand Skateboarding?” I was into it tho.
Man, don’t even mention the Skateboarding. The amount of drinking in New Zealand is out of control! It seemed normal; it was normal, to us at least.
Travelling allowed me to see the way other cultures have this different relationship with alcohol.
In Europe especially, socializing is centred more around food and conversation, with alcohol being this nice part of the whole experience but not the end purpose. In places like Germany, alcohol is available to buy literally everywhere but you rarely see anyone out of control. I feel that New Zealand being this little isolated Island, we took to drinking as a coping method for the isolation and would use alcohol to self medicate. Other cultures embrace it in a less destructive way, to enhance the moment – not to numb it out.