Now open to view in our gallery at 17 Osborne Street, Newmarket and online, an exhibition of six artists from the Whanganui region. Featuring original paintings, glass work, woven feather sculpture, carved MDF pieces and ceramics, we are delighted to reveal the full scope of works.
The six artists share some of the inspiration behind their work below.
My work is hand blown from a furnace set at 1150 degrees. The real trick is to work with a material that wants to fall to the ground - think of liquid golden syrup or honey - each layer of clear glass is rolled in colour and repeated four or five times, then placed in an oven for a temperature-controlled cool down period. Two or three days later the work is cut with a diamond saw then dressed flat using a flat bed (spinning plate) until smooth.
This recent series of work was inspired by the landscape and the ocean, in particular the west coast of the North Island which is made up of black sand beaches and the steep valleys of the Whanganui River. By using the surrounding landscape and ocean as a starting point, it is my intention to create a sense of space where the act of painting and the physicality of the materials become important.
From there, I followed the idea of exploration and discovery – the need we have to explore, navigate and push the limits of the unknown, which I then connected to my process of painting and the way I approach my work. This involves pushing the materials to the edge, taking risks and exploring the different possibilities within painting.
The marks stem from the cliffs and valleys falling into the river, the paint is poured and moved across the canvas. Layers upon layers are built up on the canvas and then destroyed. Sometimes you might see parts of what was there before, but sometimes it will be gone completely.
This series of work began its journey when I found a box of half circle papers, delicately painted, in a Japanese Antique Importers' in Auckland. I had no idea what I was going to do with them but I knew I had to have some of them.
After lots of research and with help from Japanese friends (and strangers who became friends), I can tell you some of the story behind these beautiful pieces of works.
These are the hand painted paper components of Japanese fans from the Nakata Family Fan Studio. This studio existed pre 1940 but I cannot tell you where. Almost every fan has the Nakata family Kanji stamp on it, either front or back and also a number which either denotes the painter or perhaps the design number.
I also discovered notes attached to some of the fans which gave some small insights into the studio work and how the studio was run. One note requested the design be considered good enough to be used by the studio. Another note queried the use of the correct colour. Several designs were repeated multiple times.
I was fascinated, but found the information online very limited and I am quite frustrated by how little I have been able to find out.
I wanted these artist's work to be given another chance to be appreciated and so decided on a collaboration. I truly hoped that I could add my part to complement their work, use something of their colour or movement or feeling. I hoped that they would be happy with the something new.
I always love to re-use anything beautiful and when something resonates with you across a cultural and generational divide it opens up a lot of opportunity for learning. And learning is good.
The main design elements that run through my work are line and form. Colour and texture are secondary and subservient.
My exploration of the relationship between the forms I create and the lines made by cutting into them is ongoing.
The Offering sculptures came from a body of work started in 2001, and represent a period of spiritual searching in my life.
I have always admired Japanese art and was looking for an excuse to study in that area. There is a close connection between all the arts in Japan, so I was able to draw on several to achieve what I wanted. I mainly looked at gardens, Ikebana and calligraphy.
The carved bowls and vessels are an exploration of utilitarian containers.
I abandoned vessel making early on in my art studies in favour of sculptural work. Several years after graduating I found myself looking at vessels again, everything from baskets to carved wooden bowls, decorated gourds and woven bags.
These vessels are an internal response to many years of looking at other vessels (in the broadest sense) The carved patterns also are inspired by many things from weaving to natural patterns formed by sticks washed up on a beach.
My approach is from a sculptural perspective, where form and line are all important and function does not influence the design.
I use the vessels as a painter uses a canvas, as a means to display the carved patterns and designs.
I started these about 8 years ago as a response to Japanese ceramics. I was trying to capture the sense of a vessel that needed to be held as well as looked at.
There are visual references to wood fired ceramics, anagama ceramics, and concepts such as wabi-sabi and techniques like kintsugi.
They are also a response to mass-produced, every one looks the same, glass and ceramics that can be bought cheaply downtown.
I am now looking back at them and trying to remember how I made particular colourings with the glass powders and chip that I was using.
As well as the colouring they have texture and ridges and are very tactile.
Please touch. Pick them up and hold them
VANESSA WAIRATA EDWARDS
The two exhibited works are a development in Edwards' work.
It is not a “done thing” to exhibit the wood blocks with the prints, and certainly not a done thing to sell the blocks” However within Edwards decolonisation and re- indigenisation of her printing practice she reframes numerous aspects of Eurocentric print practices through a indigenous, more specifically Māori approach. This includes referring to her series of works from the same printing block/plate as a generation of work rather than an edition. Although each work comes from the same block they are all individual and are similar but not the same in their outcome. In this way Edwards is able to respond to her creative process as she makes.