Cheerie & Cherry

Cherie Meerlo, professional body artist, and Alesha Hunt (aka Cherry Boomb), burlesque performer and body art model, is a power duo when it comes to New Zealand body art. Both from Napier, the pair has, on many occasions, collaborated together, using body art as medium to break taboos and trigger debate.

In February 2020, the pair triggered national controversies at the Napier Art Deco Festival by having Hunt dressed up as the ‘Spirit of Napier Statue’, thus with little clothes on and publicly appearing at this family-friendly event. Meerlo addressed the critics by stating that ‘art should be provocative and provoke something in everyone and that's what it did. Banksy's artwork works more with controversy’. When questioning Hunt about her public appearance she declared that this reaction shed light on society’s hypocritical nature: “where lies the difference between a naked statue and a naked woman?; why is one more shocking than the other?; and if kids can look at the statue, why could they not look at me?”

Meerlo being a ‘forefront leader’ in the New Zealand body art scene was yet again confirmed at the Wellington Pride Parade 2020, in the Nomadic Art Gallery for its ‘Freedom of Expression’ exhibition. Hunt became a public participatory artwork created by the public for the public. As pointed out by Meerlo in our interview with her: ‘What this was today was extraordinary on so many levels, there’s this little stigma about bodyart but today it just brought that all down. People could see that it’s just an expression of art. A freedom of expression. It was beautiful’.

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