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House Visits: Rural Roots

From personalised to pop culture, there's a relatable vibe to the art and inspiration hanging in the home of a well-liked NZ actor.


The days of visiting galleries and exhibitions are temporarily on hold. The lost opportunity to get motivation from walking through new spaces and soaking in different works is a void The Big Idea wants to help fill. 

Our ‘House Visits’ series takes you into the homes and working spaces of people in the creative world, to see what they have collected on their travels, what it means to them and what they’re using as inspiration inside their own four walls.

Will Hall - Silverdale

If I’m being honest, ‘Life in the bubble’ hasn’t been all that different from my everyday reality in recent history (just a lot less barista-made coffee).

Ever since my firstborn, Freddie arrived back in 2016, my bubble’s been shrinking. Cost of living in Auckland was getting out of hand so we sold up and went rural. Because we were sleep deprived and had to commute an hour to get anywhere, we had no energy left for socialising. Then without warning, all my acting work dried up. (The fact I took a break from acting to try my hand at underwear modelling probably wasn’t the smartest move in hindsight). 

Being an actor in NZ has never been the smoothest ride and after you’re killed off one TV show, the next TV gig could be years away...if at all?! So when myself and my lovely wife, Sarah sat down to talk about who’d be best to get out there and feed the monkey, and who might be better qualified to change the nappies... she took one for the team! And I thank her for that every day. I love being a stay at home dad. It truly is the role of a lifetime. She’s sacrificed a lot for that to happen.

She even added another young fella to our bubble two years ago when Jed decided to join us. And now with lockdown, it’s all four of us at home. 

We’re all getting along well and it’s been amazing having Mum join us. Although she still heads to work for 8 hours a day, the commute down the stairs to the make-shift desk in the garage is a far cry from the 90-minute journey she was doing down State Highway 1 every morning. Yay to having Mum for an extra 3 hours a day!

So bubble life’s pretty cool. We miss our friends and I do hear a lot of complaints about boredom and fear (rightly so) about job security during these uncertain times from them - but this reality right now is kind of normal life for an actor. This is similar to how we feel between jobs after we’ve poured our heart and soul into an audition and then all we can do is wait.... just WAIT. It’s not the life for everyone.

So I wish I had some work to share with you but it’s been pretty quiet. I have a blink & you’ll miss me moment with Eva Green on the upcoming Luminaries and I have a couple of scenes in a comedy on TVNZ On Demand called I Date Rejects which has a great finale scene in an art gallery (so a perfect segue) but if you’re just interested in seeing more of my bubble, you can catch them all on my Instagram account

“Peraki Woolshed” by Kelvin McMillian

This is an original painting of the woolshed on my grandfather’s farm, “Peraki”, on Banks Peninsula in Canterbury. My dad had it commissioned a couple of Christmases back for me. Kelvin, the artist, is one of his ex-students from the school we both attended.

I love it. It’s a one-off. It reminds me of my family’s rural roots, hanging central in our urban lounge. The paddocks in and around the woolshed are where I spent most of my school holidays. It inspires me to share a yarn about the past with my boys, one of who is named after my grandfather, Fred.  A man of his time. I sit under it with my kids, cuddling them in a way that the ol’ bugger probably would’ve scoffed at. I can picture him now, rolling his eyes at me, telling me to take my bloody hat off inside, right after lighting up his pipe and locking up the bloody dogs. 

 “Field of Dreams” Print by Ross Jones

My wife and I had our wedding registry at a gallery, and by the time we got back from our honeymoon, we discovered she was pregnant. We chose a painting for ourselves and thought we’d get a print for our unborn child.

We both wanted to get something from Ross’s prolific collection that often plays with symbols of childhood, but it was a hard job choosing. We settled on “Field of Dreams”, an image of a frosty winter morning on an empty rural rugby field.

It summed up my childhood in Canterbury, and quite frankly, my dreams back then. I could smell the liniment. But it also has a misty, darker feeling to it – reflective of our flawed ideals of masculinity. That’s according to my wife. I just see a bloody beauuuuuudiful field, mate. Just kidding, I can see both. Honest.

Star Wars

I have quite a vast Star Wars collection that begun when I was a wee fella in the mid 80s.

This collection here is a small sample that includes my toys from the 80s & 90s, alongside my son's toys from today.

I do get a sense of nostalgia looking at this collection and have to pinch myself that I have two boys of my own, playing with my old toys that used to bring me so much joy. Little did I know back then I was going to get SO much joy out of them as a 40-year-old, watching my two sons pretending to be Chewbacca and ripping the head of Darth Vader – emotive, powerful stuff!

Written by

The Big Idea Editor

17 Apr 2020

The Big Idea Editor