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Spirit, people power, nature power – Wairua, Mana Tangata, Mana Whenua

31 May

10 April – 1 June 2015 0420_2000jess-se-lisaTop Left to Right: Detail of Wairua 2, oil paint/mixed media on canvas, by Keri Molly; Homage, oil on canvas, by Lynn Pirrie Smith; Pou Wairua woven flax + copper panel by Jess Paraone; Several Seas, photographic print on transparency by Sen McGlinn; Long Boat, mild steel by Peter Brammer; Puddle, Pigment print on cotton rag by Lisa Clunie; I want to be reborn, acrylic & oil stick on canvas by Simon Kerr; Prana, Pigment print on cotton rag by Lisa Clunie.

Whenua refers to the link between us and life or the life spirit, which sometimes refers to the land or the natural world. Curated by Piripi Ball + Laurell Pratt this exhibition theme of the spirit as the power of humanity and the power of the natural is expressed in sculpture, carving, weaving, paintings, photographic, installations and craft and design. Piripi’s remit for this show was to encourage artists to approach this theme from the materiality as much as from an abstracted stance and he was successful in getting work from a huge diversity of artistic approaches.
Left to Right: Tewhate-wha – Taonga tuku iho aa Tawhaki / Jeweled Heirloom of Tawhaki, maire, deer antler by Te Kuiti Stewart; Tiki-wananga – Matauranga Aariki / Knowledge of Progenies, kauri, koa, silko, feathers, paua by Te Kuiti Stewart; Where Two Waters Meet, acrylic & gesso on canvas, by Bev Wilson; Detail of a photograph by John McMullen.

0418_1925-hughLeft to Right: Detail: Where Two Waters Meet, acrylic & gesso on canvas, by Bev Wilson; Mauri, silver gelatin print by John McMullen; Rosary, oil on canvas by Hugh Major; Passion 3, mixed media on board by Brenda Liddiard; Koraro Totem, flax flower heads, pumice, copper wire by Carolyn Lye; Howling in the Night, plywood, indian ink, wire by Natascha Rodenburg; Four Strands, plaited bull kelp with harakeke tie by Carolyn Lye.

0420_2001d_bevisLeft to Right: Detail of Nga Kete O Te Wananga (The 3 baskets of Knowledge), digital photographic print on eco-ethical wallpaper by Sheree Edwards; Emergence, carved slate, kauri, mother of pearl, bone, by Bevis Hatch;Clearing – Cowboys & indians on the pa site, digital pigment ink print on archival paper by Ellie Smith; Wairua, acrylic on canvas with oil sticks by Lynn Pirrie Smith; Whare Ihu, puriri and totata, oil paint and aluminium by Aaron Hoskin; Portrait of Ted, photograph on paper by Dr Chris Reid; Portrait of Zena, photograph on paper by Dr Chris Reid;

0418_1926b_julie-al-dorLeft to Right: Round Pit fired pot, stoneware thrown pot, pit fired with wooden horn handle by Julie Cromwell; Untitled (Solar Flare), pigment print on cotton rag by Lisa Clunie; For the love of Stars, feather crosses by Alicia Courtney; Journey Home, screenprint by David Knight; Birdman Series, acrylics/spray paint on wood by Leonard Murupaenga; Pit fired Pot Thrown, stoneware pot, pit fired, copper wire around horn handle by Julie Cromwell; Early Tides – Rawene, silver gelatin print by John McCullum; Hidden, carved oak, sooty mould (fungi), cooper wire, wood, glue, ink by Natascha Rodenburg; Jerusalem Window 1V, mixed media on canvas by Brenda Liddard; Waka, wood-fired, ceramic sculpture by Dorothy Waetford.

The exhibition runs until 1 June 2015,
Kings Theatre, 80 Gillies St, Kawakawa.
Open Wed-Sundays: 10-4. Their facebook page.

Artists in the exhibition
Piripi Ball | Regan Balzer | Gabrielle Belz | Nicholas J Boyd | Peter Brammer | Michelle Chapman | Kiri Clark | Lisa Clunie | Alicia Courtney | Julie Cromwell | Richard Darbyshire | Barry Downs | Davina Duke | Anthony Dunn | Sheree Edwards | Philip John England | Ally Grant | Rhonda Halliday | Shellie Hanley | Nicola Hart | Bevis Hatch | Aaron Hoskin | Leanne Jackson | Tavis Jacques | Darren Keith | Simon Kerr | David Knight | Thomas Lauterbach | Brenda Liddiard | Jo Lumkong | Carolyn Lye | Kirsty Mackenzie | Linda Munn | Hugh Major | Sen McGlinn | Pita McIntireJohn McMullen | Keri Molly | Leonard Murupaenga | Jess Paraone | Lee Ralph | Israel Randall | Karen Reeves | Theresa Reihana | Chris Reid | Natascha Rodenburg | rosy & rich | Carla Ruka | Petera Reid | Kathy Shaw | Ellie Smith | Lynn Pirrie Smith | Nikitta Shine | Barbie Stevenson | Te Kuiti Stewart | Kathy Shaw Urlich | Sonja van Kerkhoff | Dorothy Waetford | Yonel Watene | Karena Way | Lee Ralph and Adam Wharekawa | Bev Wilson | Sasha Wilson | Ann Winship


Recycling the material – VillageArts, Kohukohu

9 May

Sarah Lenton's plastic wrapped stones

Sarah Lenton’s plastic wrapped stones are a three dimensional composition of greys, black, white and red.

“It is not a tale invented but a confirmation of what went on before it…” is a quotation from the Quran (Sura 12, verse 111) which speaks of how everything including religious truths are nothing new: that is, everything is recycled, comes around again. The message is recycled although the materials or cultural lens may differ, and so Meaning boils down to a subjective contexutalized point of view.

For decades contemporary artists, have recycled the materials of objects, sometimes with the aim of raising awareness of the effect of context and at other times purely as a medium.

Although a recycled item can never be as ‘modernist’ as the medium of oil on canvas or steel or marble because when an object gains a new life in the context of an art institution (whether an established gallery or not) the viewer will immediately notice, for example, that this old shoe is hung vertically and not on someone’s foot. The context of an art gallery would obviously change the aesthetics of the shoe (we might examine it for the colours and textures or for wear and tear). But the viewer might also wonder why are the walls at eye height in an art gallery so important or why do we have the culture of the rectangular stretched canvas? But what about a show that throws light on the theme of rubbish? Where relocated recycled or found objects are invested with values.

“Rubbish – a new collection” is the latest exhibition at the Kohukohu Village Arts gallery in the Far North of Aotearoa | New Zealand where 29 artists have recycled the material.

Artists such as Méret Oppenheim (see her 1936 teacup and spoon made out of fur.) or Pablo Picasso (see his 1942 bicycle seat “Bull’s Head”) have been using ‘found objects’ in their art since the 1920s but in this day and age where we are increasingly aware of the renewability of materials, it is no surprise that many artists choose recycled materials over a blank canvas.

A detail of David Stanley Benson's grid-locked mobiles in the empty spaces of three pieces of unused concrete reinforcing bar and below Sarah Lenton's plastic wrapped stones.

A detail of David Stanley Benson’s grid-locked mobiles in the empty spaces of three pieces of unused concrete reinforcing bar and below Sarah Lenton’s plastic wrapped stones.

Some choose this for economic reasons. Others for ecological reasons, and some for the conceptual (the extra story or double meaning).

Some use the recycled as a medium while other artists use the recycled as part of the message in their work.

A detail of David Stanley Benson's sculpture.

A detail of David Stanley Benson’s sculpture.

Sculpture by Lindsey Davidson

One of three sculptures by Lindsey Davidson in which copper wire is delicately held inside the protection of a barbed wire structure.

Most artists in this show, such as David Stanley Benson and Sarah Lenton have used recycled objects as the medium. Benson cut shapes out of wood offcuts and in suspending these inside the grid, his work emphasizes the frame within the framework of a triptyph, a traditional format for art story telling from a bygone past. His Matisse-like cut-outs hang freely yet each is enclosed – perhaps a metaphor for the mundane, the urban or futile. Each individual element throws a shadow beyond the frame, yet each is still dependent on the grid. Instead of the concrete reinforcing being filled with concrete, each ‘element’ has been ‘concreted.’

Sarah Lenton’s plastic melted stones function in more abstract terms. They are a three dimensional composition of greys, black, white and red.

Lindsey Davidson’s three barbed wire and copper sculptures are poetic spatial inter- ventions. Each copper bundle is surround- ed by a barbed defense system. Perhaps a metaphor for the dependency of the vulnerable elements within an eco-system or the mutability of the systems themselves, given that some of the barbed wire was rusting.

While most recycled materials in the show are used as a medium that replaces paint or marble, some, such as in Michelle Mayn’s woven “Recycled Rain Cape / Pākē,” (A pākē = a New Zealand Māori rain cape) bring in the socio-political or the cultural lens.

Michelle Mayn's woven Recycled Rain Cape / Pake

Woven computer wire and plastic pākē (Maori rain cape) by Michelle Mayn

In any other exhibition or context, we wouldn’t notice whether the plastic or wire was recycled or not because what stands out is the delicacy of the form suspended out from the wall and the fine weaving. Traditionally pākē (rain capes) were made when needed from leaves found at hand in the bush. By making this pākē from plastic and wire, which are commonly found discarded, she is continuing the legacy of other contemporary New Zealand based weavers who work traditionally with new materials such as Ani O’Neill or Anna Gedson. However Mayn’s work is more sculptural and in this context this work is a statement about how art can change the material. Cold plastic and discarded computer wiring gives form to something soft and protective.

Mayn’s delicately woven sculpture-come-fashion-statement is also a reminder that rubbish is in the eye of the beholder.

Detail of a pendent by Tavis Jacques

Detail of a pendent by Tavis Jacques

Tavis Jacques’ pendents also reference the worlds of design and fashion. The material, glass shards, appear sea worn. Washed up glass is not only rubbish but a sign of disregard because at some point it was thrown into the sea by someone. The artist has redeemed the insult.
The works display a delicate balance between form (the sculptured and irregular contours as well as minimal traces of what was once a bottle) and design (the forms are almost wing-like and the carved incisions are a double spiral). Rubbish is recontextualised as ornament.

"Down to the bone" by Sue Matthews is as painterly as it is sculptural and conceptual.

“Down to the bone” by Sue Matthews is as painterly as it is sculptural and conceptual.

“Down to the bone” by Sue Matthews is a cross between a Maddox (Allen Maddox (1948-2000) was a New Zealand known abstract expressionist painter) painting and a fluxus object. Matthew’s combination of painting, sculpting and assemblage are akin to the Fluxus use of intermedia.

The title refers not just to the bone held up like a trophy above the kauri platter by a pair of forks but also refers to scraping the barrel, using things to the last drop. The paint, her statement informs us, is scrapings from paint tin lids while the platter is a warped reject. Here rubbish is what has been conserved as well as the found or collected objects. There is painterly delight, sculptural magic and conceptual wit in this work.

It is an associative work where the edges between one medium or idea merge with another. Perhaps the next time we scrape the leftovers from the plate life gives us, we might think what else can be made of them.

The "The Bix-Box Racer" + "The Bix-Box Racer" by Malcolm Ford.

The “The Bix-Box Racer” + “The Bix-Box Racer” by Malcolm Ford.

Malcolm Ford’s model planes are other works which are a rich combination of the conceptual, the ecological and the material. “The Bix-Box Racer” is a model based on a 1930s single seater 7 cylinder radial plane built for speed. It is made out of weet-bix cereal packaging. Weet-bix was the iconic New Zealand energy breakfast meal for those of us growing up in the 60s to 80s.

His biplane titled “The Bristol Black Sack,” constructed out of discarded corrugated cardboad covered with a black rubbish collection bag, is based on a combination of the German, French and English biplanes developed towards the end of World War 1. The art of model making is generally concerned with the presentation of a faithful representation aimed at the illusion of a copy of a larger item. In using recycled packaging as well as a rubbish bag, Malcolm Ford has turned this concern with the craft of representation on its head. Then as if this is not enough, he melds the elements of the German, French and English biplanes so the distinctions between those who were at war in the skies of 1918 are dissolved into one art statement. Time does not stand still and we should beware of a nostaglia that is uncritical.

Left to Right: "Down the Rabbit Hole" by Marg Morrow, "In Milk We Trust" by Sonja van Kerkhoff, and abstract collage compositions by Erika holden

Left to Right: “Down the Rabbit Hole” by Marg Morrow, “In Milk We Trust” by Sonja van Kerkhoff, and abstract collage compositions by Erika Holden

In Marg Morrow’s work “Down the Rabbit Hole,” scale is what you notice first.

The ‘rabbit hole’ refers to the metre long tube of fabric created by knitting discarded clothing. This Odenburg-esque soft sculpture hangs from an enormous spool that in turn is suspended from above. Unlike Oldenburg however, what you notice is the combination of recycled elements. So for example, you can clearly see that the cable spool serves as a scaled up cotton reel.

Liz McAuliffe’s approach is to collect, order and display. A wall shows her suite of five “Collections.” Three are found objects, such as a wheel hub and a piece of wood, which have been hung like trophies on display. Two of these collections consist of arrangements of objects on shelving.

Left > Right: Fused plastic by Sarah Lenton, Wall Flowers by Christine Butler, + Yellow plastic with wire and other objects on the wall are by Lynsie Austin, Chair with metal protusions by Beverley Cox, "Collections" the objects + shelving on the front wall are by Liz McAuliffe.

Left > Right: Fused plastic by Sarah Lenton, Wall Flowers by Christine Butler, + Yellow plastic with wire and other objects on the wall are by Lynsie Austin, Chair with metal protusions by Beverley Cox. The objects + shelving on the front wall are “Collections” by Liz McAuliffe.

A detail of "Collections: A Measure Of Time" by Liz McAuliffe.

A detail of “Collections: A Measure Of Time” by Liz McAuliffe.

In “Collect- ions: A Measure Of Time” objects have been placed at markers along three wooden rulers. The top ruler is dotted arte povera-like with rusted and flattened found objects. Perhaps they mark the passing of time? To me they are reminders of treasures in the unexpected. The second row consists of packaging and the third a row of small bottles. These remind me of Damien Hirst‘s cabinet displays of ordered collections.

a new collection

April 11th – May 14th 2015
Village Arts Gallery, Kohukohu, Hokianga

Artists in the exhibition are:
Hebe Albrecht, Lynsie Austin, David Stanley Benson, Christine Butler, Beverley Cox, Janine Creser, Lindsey Davidson, Claire Deighton, Malcolm Ford, Wally Hicks, Erika Holden, Tavis Jacques, Leona Kenworthy, Cherie Keys, Sarah Lenton, Sue Matthews, Michelle Mayn, Liz McAuliffe, Gillian McGrath, Rachel Miller, Marg Morrow, Tina Mudrach, Jill Reilly, Karen Reeves, Sash, Lise Strathdee, Nathan Suniula, Sharon Terrizzi + Sonja van Kerkhoff

Contemporary in Kawakawa

17 Jan
Acrylic on canvas by Theresa Reihana in the Kings Theatre gallery, Kawakawa

Acrylic on canvas by Theresa Reihana in the Kings Theatre gallery, Kawakawa

“Rip, Shit & Bust – a response to invasive mining realities,” is the first exhibition in the recently renovated 1936 Kings Theatre just down from the Hundertwasser public toilets on the main street in Kawakawa in the north of Aotearoa | New Zealand.

detail: Orificia Coffee Table by Sash. Glitter, masks,	LED	lights +  show case plinth.

detail: Orificia Coffee Table, glitter, masks, LED lights + show case plinth, by Sash.

Many of the paintings, prints, ceramics, raranga (flax weaving), carvings, sculpture and installations by the 17 artists relate to the exhibition theme of concern about drilling or mining: heightened naturally, by the recently begun Statoil oil exploration along the Northland coast. “Orificia Coffee Table” by Kaikohe artist Sash is a flashing glitter display case at shin height. The viewer has to adjust their stance and focus before the ‘blue worm’ which threads through the multiple eyes of Papatuanuku (Mother Earth) is recognized. The gentle flashing light works both as warning and metaphor for the flux of the natural world. Masks hide and reveal: here they represent a multi-eyed essence that is open and vulnerable. In Sash’s other work, “Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls” an oil like ooze in continual flow, cascades over brightly painted and glittered rocks and texts.
Theresa Reihana’s paintings and prints address the theme of the environment in more painterly terms. One of her paintings, pictured above, shows a fracture in the kowhaikowhai pattern above a clock face from a bygone age. The broken up earth below is almost abstract. The three divisions are like three worlds: the future (spiritual, conceptual or material consequences, with a fault line in the pattern of the universe), the present (time undefined) and the past (what has been done to the earth).

Whenua II + I by Theresa Reihana

Detail Left to Right: Whenua II + I by Theresa Reihana, acrylic on plywood.

Each of the “Whenua” works by Theresa Reihana consists of two parts, the large face and a baby in a fetal position. Here “Whenua” is a powerful metaphor for what is missing between the two (in the Māori language whenua means umbilical chord). The gouged and ripped layers in plywood in the ‘earth mother’ indicate something is amiss, while the baby (each of us) floats disconnected.

Fossil Fuel by Gabrielle Belz

Fossil Fuel by Gabrielle Belz, intaglio print on paper, 1 in an edition of one.

The print “Fossil Fuel” by Gabrielle Belz is a playful reminder that resources are finite and part of an ecosystem. Some of her other prints, such as in “Kia Tupato” (Be Careful), have drawings or cartoons on plastic laid on top of the print.

Kia Tupato by Gabrielle Belz

Kia Tupato by Gabrielle Belz

The text in this work reads “Don’t wake Ruamoko,” a reference to the guardian or cause of earthquakes. Her other prints also warn of unnatural disasters as a result of mining or drilling and Bev Wilson’s painting below addresses the same topic.

Acrylic on canvas by Bev Wilson

“There’s a Frac/tion Too Much Friction (as Tim Finn
would say) yeah” acrylic on board, copper-coated nails, by Bev Wilson

Under the mountain red breaks out around fractures and intrusions, like wounds that are irritated.

Raranga by Te Hemoata Henare

Detail: Raranga, woven flax, by Te Hemoata Henare.

Raranga by Te Hemoata Henare consists of two 4 metre woven flax strips. A maro (a traditional apron or loin cloth that covers the pubic area) hangs in the middle flanked first by mountain patterns and then by river-like patterns. For a Māori person, acknowledging your mountain and river always comes before any mention of ancestry, so that identity is symbolically situated in connection with the natural world. The title refers to the technique and medium she has used but it could imply that the land or the natural world – the blank horizon above – is continuous and enduring. In the text about her work she refers to the whakatauākī (proverb), “Whatu ngarongaro te tangata, Toitu te whenua” (People perish but the land remains).

Manaia, acrylic on canvas, by Julien Atkinson

Manaia, acrylic on canvas, by Julien Atkinson

Detail of Manaia by Julien Atkinson

Detail of Manaia by Julien Atkinson

What makes this exhibition curated by Lau’rell Pratt and Theresa Reihana so stimulating is the diversity of media and styles and approaches.
Julien Atkinson’s five large canvases are exquisite, not just because of his fine use of colour and technique but in their fine balance between design, technique and the conceptual. From a conceptual perspective, the manaia, a hybrid guardian of spiritual and material worlds, stands as if about to pounce on us, should we dare to approach. This stunning creature, the manaia, perhaps mythical, or perhaps not if only we had eyes to see, stands there to protect the land. Through the body we can see a horizon – the land this creature is guarding. In terms of design and technique: there is a beautiful play between flat decoration and three dimensional illusion, and Celtic and Maori stylistic features, along with sci-fi or hyper-realism.

Ruru, acrylic on canvas, by Tinike Hohaia

Ruru, acrylic on canvas, by Tinike Hohaia

“Ruru” by Tinike Hohaia, like Julien Atkinson’s paintings, is a celebration of creation combining the decorative with the painterly. Ruru, Māori for a native owl (The morepork, Ninox novaeseelandiae) is associated with the spirit world in Māori mythology. It is believed that if a morepork sits conspicuously nearby or enters a house there will be a death in the family, and so like the manaia, this work could be read as a warning. In some traditions the ancestral spirit of a family group can take the form of an owl, known as Hine-ruru, the ‘owl woman.’ These owl spirits can act as kaitiaki (guardians) with the power to protect, warn and advise.

Over-painting by Nellie Para

Acrylic and photographic print on canvas by Nellie Para

Tinike Hohaia is one of nine artists in this exhibition who were students of Theresa Reihana’s marae noho (live-in workshops in a Māori setting) coordinated through the Northland branch of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa (a nationwide Māori educational foundation whose courses range from beginners’ to university level). Some of the artists, such as the kuia (Māori elder) Nellie Para, another of Theresa’s students, are exhibiting for the first time.
Here Nellie Para has appropriated a photograph on canvas of the British actress, humanitarian, and fashion icon Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993) by giving her a moko (tattoo), a tīpare (a Māori style headband) and a whakakai (an earring), against a sky that reminds me of psychedelic art. I loved it that an iconic western image from a bygone time has been coloured by a local elder.
Hidden	Destruction	and	 Devastation, acylic on canvas, by Ann Hui

Fore: Hidden Destruction and Devastation, acylic on canvas, by Ann Hui, Orificia Coffee Table, glitter, masks, LED lights + show case plinth, by Sash.
Back: two paintings by Julien Atkinson, three paintings by Bev Wilson, two paintings and two prints by Maarie te Mamaeroa Jane Ruys, and five ceramic objects by Rhonda Halliday.

Whispering Time (II) by Keatly Te Moananui Hopkins

Whispering Time (II), photogravue intaglio, by Keatly Te Moananui Hopkins.

Hinepukohurangi, acrylic on canvas, by Natascha De Swart

Hinepukohurangi, acrylic on canvas, by Natascha De Swart.
Artist statement: “The mist is a blanket for our land and rises as a blanket in our sky for our earth.”

Reading what the artists had written of themselves or their work gave me a sense of the diversity of Northland’s artistic and cultural communities. Many artists introduced themselves via whakapapa (their mountain, river, and tribal connections) followed by something about their work or approach. The format had not been standardized: some wrote of themselves being on a journey, others listed prior shows or galleries, and others provided statements in relation to their particular works.
Artists in the exhibition: Julien Atkinson, Gabrielle Belz, Graham ‘Tiny’ Dalton, Natasha De Swart, Rhonda Halliday, Te Hemoata Henare, Tinike Hohaia, Keatly Te Moananui Hopkins, Ann Hui, Keri Molloy, Kahu Reedy, Theresa Reihana, Maarie te Mamaeroa Jane Ruys, Sash, Alby Shortland, Nellie Para, Bev Wilson

The exhibition runs until January 20th 2015,
Kings Theatre, 80 Gillies St, Kawakawa.
Open daily: 10-4. Their facebook page.