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The Chris Knox Collection

Curated by Roger Shepherd
12th November 2009

 The Chris Knox Collection

The Chris Knox Collection

 Roger Shepherd

Curated by Roger Shepherd


Do It Yourself

Low-tech legend Chris Knox is an accomplished musician, cartoonist, critic, filmmaker, and jandal wearer. His particular genius takes flight in the DIY aesthetic of his music videos. “This is a unique and important collection of work perfectly illustrating what is possible with the barest of resources and a free-wheeling imagination”, Flying Nun founder, Roger Shepherd.


Chris Knox solo

 The Face of Fashion

Knox puts Movember to shame in this animated single-frame clip. Knox goes from hairless to hirsute, bald to bearded ... has there ever been a more effective choreographing of one’s own personal grooming? A DIY high concept masterclass of Knox's directing talents. Brilliant!

 Not Given Lightly

Knox directs his own face in this video for his classic Kiwi love song. The camera gradually pulls out from an extreme close up of Knox's face to a living room full of family and friends. Jump-cutting on the beat, with trademark simple-but-effective style, it fuses song and an impassioned Knox performance. 

 Half Man, Half Mole

A plasticine masterpiece by Knox and sculptor Barbara Ward (with whom he shares two children), in trademark macabre style. High/low-lights include a gruesome impaling and spit roasting, self mutilation on a grand scale (including extreme acupuncture) and general addled paranoia. God bless CK.

 The Joy of Sex

Wild bright colours, manic animation, and a “where do babies come from?” message makes this clip seem like a freaky, grungy version of a health education video. But being Knox it’s not going to be a message seen in a classroom anytime soon!

 One Fell Swoop

More homepsun ingenuity from the man who has made an art form out of compelling simplicity. Such a basic idea: type-written words flashed on the palm of an opening and closing hand; and such a mesmerising music video.

 My Dumb Luck

Chris Knox's partner, artist Barbara Ward, directed this promo - a fun black and white animation featuring a troupe of crazy skeletons. Dem bones disperse, disintegrate and do their discombobulating thing in this delightful dance clip set to the manic beat of Knox's song.

 Inside Story

Scenes of ordinary domestic activities such as cooking, knitting and doing the washing feature with the pixelated face video effect usually reserved for criminals and the like. Knox doesn't appear in the video, but directs in his usual simple but slyly clever way.

 Get A Life

Knox wears a Madonna head-set mic and John Lennon sunglasses, with a t-shirt and bright yellow shorts, as he walks along Auckland's Ponsonby Rd singing and playing guitar. In background inserts Knox himself plays a mad air-guitar-playing chorus and censor. Full of cheek and characteristic energy.

 My Only Friend

Knox has described this love song as being “about as naked as I get” and “utterly heartfelt in a way that ‘Not Given Lightly’ only hints at”. The video is perhaps his most personal, with striking images of his long-time partner Barbara Ward’s face merged with, and projected on Knox’s own.

Tall Dwarfs

 Nothing's Going To Happen

Knox mines his 1981 surroundings for this stop-motion clip, including setting fire to his lounge. On the telly are the Springboks, Tom Bradley and a Stars on 45 countdown. Two decades before Final Cut Pro, and when directors like Michel Gondry started popularising the craft aesthetic. Legend.

 Radio with Pictures - A Pointless Exercise

The title belies this RWP profile of Chris Knox and Alec Bathgate in the early days of Tall Dwarfs; taking in The Enemy — with punk performance footage — and Toy Love. Knox’s seething disillusionment with the music industry is evolving into the DIY ethos that will reshape NZ alternative music.


1994 Knox and Bathgate asked fans to send in rhythm tracks, then used some of them as creative fuel for their 1997 album Stumpy. This promotional film alternates live performances (including some naked keyboarding from Knox) with various offspring and friends, free-associating on the word stumpy.

 Gluey Gluey

“Crust on my sheets ...” 'Gluey Gluey' is an ode to snot and other gross bodily functions - and the clip illustrates this theme with disgusting relish. Giant nose-picking shots, snot eating, underpants itching ... like a Roald Dahl story set to song. Not for hygiene freaks.


NZ On Air gave Knox a little more budget than usual and here he goes for it. Knox and Alec Bathgate perform with bandaged balaclava-like heads and weird painted face masks - English Patient meets a K-Road flower cult - while an upside down world flickers in the background. Mad but great.

 Turning Brown and Torn in Two

Knox's grungy but gorgeous single frame animation suits this mournful song perfectly. The shot of Knox's daughter as a toddler, with the scratched in message "there is always hope" gives the clip a poignant ending. Multifarious images of what “turning brown” might mean offer particular delight.

 Fork Songs

A compilation of four short ditties from the Tall Dwarfs’ Fork Songs album - ‘Wings’, ‘Lowlands’, ‘Oatmeal’, and ‘Two Humans’. The linked clips all feature assorted forms of stop frame animation and film scratching. Oatmeal does unspeakable things with two raw chickens and other meat products.

 Phil's Disease Day 1

A simple line drawing animation for this wee tune from the Slugbucket Hairybreath Monster EP. The video features smoking sharks, animated versions of the Slugbucket character, Alec Bathgate, and Knox himself. It’s fitfully low-tech as usual, but the clip still manages to use correct apostrophes throughout!

 Phil's Disease Day 4

More doodle-tastic animated craziness for another short track from the Slugbucket Hairybreath Monster EP. This one is slightly more complex and Len Lye-esque than its partner Phil’s Disease Day 1.

 The Slide

Shot on location in his own Grey Lynn backyard. Knox and fellow Dwarf Alec Bathgate feature in flickering TV screen images, as do scenes of ordinary domestic life. The strange comedy and tragedy face masks look like they're carved out of mouldy orange peel: a very Knox attempt at making composting fun!

 The Brain that Wouldn't Die

A video for a track from the Slugbucket Hairybreath Monster EP. Expressionist shadows, science experiments in the basement, Frankenstein-like freaks, a flickering TV set, and a brain transplant, feature in this mini horror movie from grunge-master Knox.

Not in-the-band, but Knox directed

 Tally Ho

This memorable video marked Knox’s directing debut. Knox combines a number of cheap but effective camera techniques to capture the energy of the now-classic song. The most basic was to film the band street walking with a borrowed a 16mm camera set at a slow frame rate. The distinctive solarised shots were a happy accident.

 Caroline's Dream

Directed by Knox, this video features assorted strange props including a doll, a mannequin and half a pig's head. The song title is Caroline's Dream, but the torch-lit video has a nightmarish quality; and what is Chris Matthews doing writhing about on stage with his pants undone?


 Bride of Frankenstein

This animated Joe Wylie clip was the second video made for the song. Featuring Knox singing, and filmed in Auckland, it’s a veritable treat. The melodramatic grotesqueries, gay colours, surgery porn and tomato sauce all contribute to produce one of this country's most iconic music videos.

 Roger Shepherd talks to Chris Knox - part 1

For the first part of this special ScreenTalk interview, filmed in 2008, Flying Nun founder Roger Shepherd chats with Knox about his life and career. The pair discus how Knox was inspired to make films and how he began making promos for The Enemy and Toy Love.

 Roger Shepherd talks to Chris Knox - part 2

For this special ScreenTalk interview, filmed in 2008, Flying Nun founder Roger Shepherd chats with Knox about his life and career. In this second part the pair discus how Knox moved into making his own videos, being a TV film reviewer and presenter, and drawing comic-strip Max Media.

 Chris Knox

NZ On Screen on-site profile of Knox, detailing his eclectic career, from punk shaman to presenter on TVNZ 6 public-art making series New Artland. "His sense of humor is excellent and if he weren't around New Zealand would be a far duller place". Noted US music critic Byron Coley, Forced Exposure, 1993.

Craft Master

Craft Master

Roger Shepherd on the crux of Knox’s filmmaking talent: “to marry virtuosity and naivety – with honesty, always, as the glue ...”  Read More >

Just Do It Punk

Just Do It Punk

Russell Brown breaks down the punk energy and ethos of the Chris Knox magic: “this ability to conjure with the most basic palette”.  Read More >

Official Chris Knox website

Official Chris Knox website

Includes stroke recovery blog, a ‘knox box’, discography, an aroha forum, and details of testimonial LP, Stroke - Songs for Chris Knox.

Not Given Lightly

Not Given Lightly

Knox cover koha from Carter, Kilgour, McGlashan, The Mountain Goats, The Verlaines, Will Oldham (and more) on tribute album Stroke. Buy here.

Heavenly Pop Hits

Heavenly Pop Hits

This documentary tells the story of the legendary Flying Nun music label up to its 21st birthday, and chronicles Knox’s influential role.