What's your postcode?

20 December 2013
Written by Sacha Kenny | Images by Sacha Kenny & Mel Armstrong
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Sacha Kenny chats to Code 5032 creator Mel Armstrong about her original artworks: mixing recycled materials with funky typography to create one off treasures


Mel Armstrong, creator of Code 5032 is putting herself on the map. In a short space of time this Kapiti Coast artisan has been making a name creating fabulous postcode typography art pieces ‘bringing people’s stories to life on recycled treasures’.

Playing on the Kapiti area postcode, Code 5032 literally took shape from the remnants of Mel’s house renovations. Not wanting to part with the beautiful native timbers that were the bi-product of remolding her living space, Mel decided to use the wood to create her own artwork.

“When I started decorating after the renovations there was a gap in a wall that I just didn’t know what to do with, so I played around with a few things and ended up creating a list of the places where we’d lived, London, Singapore etc on a timber pallet and really liked it as did lots of other people.

“So I just decided to give it a go, make a bunch of stuff, go down to the local markets and see what happens. The great thing was people really liked it. It was very scary, putting myself out there, but people were so supportive and sweet, plus I did really well. Then when I got notice that I’d been accepted to do the Martinborough Fair last year I really panicked - but good panicked. I had a huge response from that in fact I still get people contacting me a year after saying ‘I saw you … and can you do...’ which is fantastic and then The Kapiti Arts Trail was also amazing."

With a lot of typography and graphic art work around Code 5032’s point of difference is that the pieces are all created on recycled materials, can be personalised and each has it’s own unique character.

“Just by the nature of how each piece comes out, each one is completely individual, not mass produced at all so you’re not going to walk into someone’s house and find another ‘keep calm and carry on’.

“People will buy a Code 5032 piece because it’s personal to them – it’s where they grew up or where they live or had their first kiss or whatever. I had a woman ask me to create a piece with her favourite bible psalm on it because it really meant something to her - she had a space in her kitchen, gave me the measurements and away we went.  Another lady emailed me the other day saying her daughter and son-in-law were returning to NZ after living aboard and could I please create a piece listing all the places they had lived.

“Essentially the pieces can be part of a personal story
and I think that’s what has drawn people in.”

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A trained nurse Mel has always been creative. While living in Singapore she and a friend designed and ran a successful online children’s clothing store and upon returning to live in New Zealand has had her hand in a number of creative projects. Mel attributes her childhood in central Otago to her love of old rustic timbers and weather beaten buildings, things, she says, which look like they have a story to tell and it’s the idea of allowing those stories to come to life that excites her.

“I’ve been creating all my life but I’m just not quite good enough at painting, not quite good enough at drawing and while travelling I loved photography but I’m not quite good enough at capturing what I see, but I have always been drawn to peoples stories. Which is what I love about Code 5032 - my tag line sums it up: 'part of your story brought to life on recycled treasures’.

Having since run out of the wood from her own home renovation Mel says the materials she now uses just appear, saying that now people know what she’s doing and that she’ll take any old wood going – it just seems to arrive.

“A guy down the road was renovating an old bach and I saw him starting to pull down his old boat shed so I put a wee note in his letterbox and he responded by saying ‘take as much as you like’, which was fantastic because it was all that beautiful worn, duck egg blue, tongue and grove, just beautiful. Friends over the road are pulling their place apart and they had old fence posts so I took them, my brother-in-law had excess old rimu floor boards, I collect pallets from the 4-Square down the road, occasionally I’ll get something from the recyclers if I want to do a specific piece, but yeah things just seem to be there for me.”

Excited about the future, for Mel 5032 is not just about creating unique pieces it’s about a look, style and feeling  – where the possibilities are endless.

Code 5032 is stocked in boutiques, galleries and gift shops nationwide from Auckland to Dunedin, Mel also accepts commission work.

National stockists:

The National Library gift store ‘Home’, Wellington 
Pop-Up Design Shop, Wellington
Citrus Green Gifts, Wellington
Gorgeous Things, Raumati
At the Bach Artist Gallery, Waikanae
The Curious Hibiscus, Auckland
Coco & Co., Hastings
Active Furnishings, Dunedin and Wanaka

Code 5032 'part of your story brought to life on recycled treasures'
P: 021 903 600
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I: www.facebook.com/5032code

Code 5032 image gallery | photos provided by Mel Armstrong

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+2 #2 Mel Armstrong 2013-12-20 20:17
Its fab, Sacha you have done an amazing job. I love it!! xx
+1 #1 Kate Hartmann 2013-12-20 09:57
Great article, well done Sacha and just look at you Mel! Great read.

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