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In memory of Kim Merry

25 Aug 2009
In memory of Kim Merry – Performer, Mask Maker, Yoga Teacher, Environmentalist, Creative Di

Kim Merry – Performer, Mask Maker, Yoga Teacher, Environmentalist,  Creative Director of Community Events for Nelson Arts Festival and Events Co-ordinator of Summer Festival Events – Nelson.

Kim Merry – Performer, Mask Maker, Yoga Teacher, Environmentalist,  Creative Director of Community Events for Nelson Arts Festival and Events Co-ordinator of Summer Festival Events – Nelson.

Kim Merry died on Saturday 9 August, peacefully with the loving support of his wife Jane and mother Blanche. He has two children Dan aged 10 and Georgia aged 8. Kim was 46 and had fought courageously for seven months against cancer.

Kim will be hugely missed from the Festival Team he was a part of for 15 years. He started working with the festivals doing street theatre and stilt walking, having returned home to Nelson in 1994 from a performing arts career in Melbourne.

Kim went on to become the creative director of community events for the Nelson Arts Festival, which included the Masked Parade, Carnivale, Family Finale and Street Theatre. Kim inspired thousands of children through the Masked Parade and was a great believer in participation, encouraging every child to create their own mask and to use found materials to do so. The parade opened the annual festival and was followed by a carnivale of live music, circo arts performers, dancing – a real  community gathering and celebration.

Kim also coordinated events as part of the Nelson Summer Festival programme. The first of these each year was the Lantern Spectacular, a family event prior to Christmas where families walk to the top of the Centre of New Zealand, entertained along the way by many wonderful performances - including the most loved - his own Mum performing as the snow queen with her unicorns attracting a constant crowd of little girls.

The Teddy Bears’ Picnic was transformed by Kim’s imagination into an event just for  teddies with the children taking their bears from the Teddy Museum to the Teddy Beauty Parlour and taking part in traditonal events such as sand saucer making, sack races and needle in a haystack.

Kim also presented the Nelson Buskers Festival, a weekend of great street performance and theatre, held annually in February.

In addition to his festival work Kim wore many other hats:

Mask Maker - he had studied the art of mask making in Europe and Africa and worked regularly on mask commissions for many New Zealand theatre productions.

Yoga Teacher - Kim ran his own Yoga Centre for many years, and after selling the centre continued as a highly respected yoga teacher.

Commedia del Arte Company - was set up by Kim with his performance friends Antony, Cynthia, Camilla, Jane, Sita Devi and Sri Ram. Although under resourced, the commedia company presented a number of productions to the great delight of audiences in Nelson and regional towns.

Radio Drama Awards with Fresh FM - were run for a number of years with entries from throughout New Zealand. The scripts were performed live on awards’ night and broadcast on Fresh fm.

Arts Advocate - Kim was a member of Arts Council Nelson for many years, taught performing arts and held other positions in arts groups in the Nelson community.

Enviromentalist - Kim was always a strong advocate for protecting our environment and became more involved in recent years. Advocating for the environment became a primary focus and he ran for council with this as his main agenda. Kim worked on the Youth Environment Forum, supporting youth in their vision for environmental change.

In 2008 Kim was the driving force behind the purchase of 12 acres in Nelson City for the creation of the Braemar EcoVillage.

Kim will be sadly missed by his family, his colleagues past and present, his wide circle of friends and by the local Nelson community.

Kim will be farewelled at a service at Nelson Cathedral at 1pm on Sunday August 16, followed by a gathering at Fairfield House.

Please be with us in presence or in thought, and please circulate this message to your  arts networks.

Annabel Norman     
Creative Director     
Nelson Arts Festival