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East 2018: Art at the heart of Hawke’s Bay

Peter Madden Untitled 1999Passers-by will be able to take a peek at art installation action while the Hastings City Art Gallery is closed for five days in early August.

The closure is needed to set up East, an exhibition of works by 23 artists with connections to Hawke’s Bay; from the internationally-known to emerging.

East 2018 (August 11 to November 11) features a mixture of rarely seen existing works and 10 new works commissioned specifically for the exhibition, said gallery director Toni MacKinnon.

There are internationally recognised artists amongst the names, including George Nuku, David Trubridge, Vanessa Arthur, Rangituhia Hollis, Joyce Campbell and Clare Plug.

The full roll-call is: Annette Bull, John Brown, Joyce Campbell, Terri Ripeka Crawford, Jenny Gillam, Ayesha Green, Kauri Hawkins, Michael Hawksworth, Martin Poppelwell, Peter Madden, George Nuku, Ben Pearce, Martin Poppelwell, Sonya Lacey, Lara Lindsay Parker, Jacob Scott, Ann Shelton, Natalie Robertson, Tim Thatcher, David Trubridge and Kamaka Pottery (Bruce and Estelle Martin).

To set up such a comprehensive exhibition means the gallery needs to be closed for five days from August 6; reopening to the public on Saturday, August 11.

But for those who are keen, there will be ‘peep-holes’ in the window coverings to catch glimpses of the action, said gallery director Toni MacKinnon.

“It is an exciting if very busy time, arranging the installation of works from so many artists across a comprehensive range of mediums, from painting, ceramics, photography and architecture, to industrial design, video, conceptual and performance art.”

The exhibition has been put together by senior independent Wellington-based curator and writer Bruce E. Phillips. He had traversed the country meeting with the artists, and said the breadth of conversations during that process had been enormously diverse. “We discussed tracing whakapapa and reliving childhood memories. We marvelled at climate change data and mourned the death of fish and forests. We considered the rhizomatic nature of images, the ancient knowledge of Japanese kilns and debated the politics of everything from cigarettes to overlooked deities and architecture.”

As the art and artists came together, he had crafted a whakatauki (proverb) to accompany the exhibition, similar to one that had been on his mind during the planning. The original was ‘Whatu-ngarongaro he tangata, toitū he kāinga’ (People pass away, but places still remain). The whakatauki for the exhibition is: ‘People pass away, but places still remain; Order controls limits, but chaos unleashes infinity; Cities eventually collapse, but forests forever rise’.

Hastings District councillor Wendy Schollum, who holds the community engagement portfolio, said the exhibition will showcase just how broad the arts community is in Hawke’s Bay.

“I am really looking forward to it; seeing some of our well-known favourites but also getting a look at work by our next generation of artists.

“Of course some of the artists still live here but others are coming back from points afar and it will be wonderful to have their work all in one space at one time. I really do recommend that people make the most of this opportunity.”

Inset story: Going region-wide

East is spreading its wings this year, as Hastings City Art Gallery and MTG Hawke’s Bay grow the two-yearly exhibition into a truly regional event.

For the first time, there will be work by two East artists on display at MTG Hawke’s Bay in Napier, an exhibition of EIT postgraduate honours arts students at Kinross and Co Wool Store, off West Quay in Napier, and work heading to Wairoa later in the three month exhibition period.

Jacob Scott’s video of the Marine Parade development project is one of those sited at MTG.  The other is Natalie Robertson’s wonderful work about her whanau land in Puketapu.

The exhibition of EIT honours students would be very exciting, said Hastings City Art Gallery director Toni MacKinnon. “These are our artists of tomorrow. I fully expect that they will be the known names in the East exhibitions of the future.”

The regional expansion will also see work by Joyce Campbell focusing on development in Wairoa exhibited in that town in October. Campbell, whose mediums are photography, film, video and sculpture, has most recently focused on work looking at “the collision of natural and cultural systems”.

“Joyce’s videos are familiar to audiences who attended the Sydney Biennale and Walter’s Prize exhibition in Auckland, as well as many other international venues. It’s great to have her exhibiting back in her home region,” said Ms MacKinnon.

Spreading the work across the region meant it could be appreciated by an even wider audience, said Ms MacKinnon. “It has been wonderful collaborating with MTG in the presentation of East. This is the fruition of both MTG’s and Hastings gallery’s desire to see our Hawke’s Bay review exhibition become a region-wide event,” she said.

26 July 2018

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