The Gisborne Herald, ‘The Guide’ January 2006
A HAWKE’S Bay artist has taken the skills of his Ngati Porou ancestors and adapted them for a new exhibition
that opens in Gisborne next week.
The grand-nephew of East Coast master carvers Pine and John Taiapa, jeweller Stacy Gordine applies those ancient techniques
when etching into the stone, bone, wood and precious metal “body adornments” he creates.
And there is also input from another culture in the show, Enduring Forms. Gordine this year visited the home ground of
his co-exhibitor, Dave Galanin, in the town of Sitka, Alaska.
“Dave was known for working with precious metals like silver and copper while I tended to work mainly with stone, bone and
wood,” Gordine said. “By spending time together we were able to share our experience.”
The result is a mix of medium in the close to 40 pieces they have in Enduring Forms.
Reflecting that shared experience, Gordine has submitted a number of silver pieces among his contribution, while Galanin has included works in materials like the greenstone Gordine encouraged him to source from his own country.
All, however, remain the artist’s own. Gordine, for example, may have used Galanin’s technique in creating a cuff-like silver bracelet, but the designs carved into the piece are distinctly Maori. And though Galanin may have used Gordine’s instruction in creating a palm-sized greenstone piece, its bear mask shape is unique to his Tlingit people.
There are many other crossovers. Gordine’s brooches are carved to represent a flax kete but are made out of silver; and his hair comb is a traditional Maori shape but rendered in copper, a metal precious to the Tlingit. Meanwhile, Galanin embraced the opportunity to learn stone carving, an art once strong among his people but now no longer practised.
The exhibition is the culmination of a growing professional relationship between the two that began when they met at Tolaga Bay’s Te Pou o Te Kani arts festival at the end of 2003.
The following yea Galanin spent a couple of weeks at the Gordine family home-cum-workplace, an old furniture factory in Hastings.
And earlier this year an $8000 grant from Creative New Zealand’s Indigenous Links programme helped fund Gordine’s trip to Alaska.
“It was an artistic and cultural exchange, an opportunity to experience Tlingit culture first-hand,” said Gordine, who returned to New Zealand at the end of September.
“That was pretty amazing...... . . an opportunity that normal tourists just would not get.”
Enduring Forms opens in Tairawhiti Museum’s annex on Friday, January 6. The following Monday to Thursday, artist Dave Gordine will be in the exhibition space giving live demonstrations of his jewellery-making techniques.
The Gisborne Herald, ‘The Guide’ May 26 2005
A patchwork of memories.
ARTS by Kristine Walsh
J UST a day after autumn has officially morphed into winter, a group of Gisborne artisans tonight open an exhibition showcasing works appropriate to the season — quilts.
Not that these pieces are suited only for the fending off of an unpalatable chill. Their installation on the walls of Tairawhiti Museum’s gallery loudly states that these craft pieces are artworks, each with its own story and its own tradition.
Those stories though, are not necessarily in narrative form. One, for example, Heidi’s Quilt, is a visual record of the grieving process Deb Williams went through after the loss of a much-loved pet.
“It can be very therapeutic,” said Williams who, with fellow quilters Irene Smith, Donna Rowan and Dianne Robertson, has contributed to the show of around 30 pieces. “And it can be addictive. Once you start, you are hooked.”
American quilt researcher John Rice Irwin has found quilts dating back as far as the 1700s and in New Zealand, too, quilting has been a tradition from the pioneering days.
Along with other traditional crafts— like knitting — quiltmaking has in the past 25 years experienced a huge revival in New Zealand. Now, there are hundreds of quilters groups across the country and every year thousands of quilters meet for the National Quilt Symposium.
Quilts straddle the border between form and function; they tell stories to be handed down from generation to generation; and, as with all artworks, they make statements about those who made them.
All members of the Gisborne Quilters group, the women who contributed to the museum show — A Taste Of Quilting— have years of experience in the artform with Williams, a 10-year veteran, being the most inexperienced.
And it’s a messy business, quilting. Devising a piece can mean pieces of fabric are spread around the house for weeks or months on end. “I have one on the go on my dining room table at the moment,” Williams says. “I just have to hope no one comes around for dinner.”
The Taste Of Quilting collection incorporates pieces from the traditional to the contemporary, from miniature works to those large enough to cover a king-size bed.
Inspiration, the women say, comes from a range of sources — from the colours of home, to an experience they have had, to an image they may have seen in a book.
The 1999 piece Deep Forest, for example— by Williams, Smith and Rowan and on loan from a private collection — is a record of its creators’ feelings about the New Zealand countryside.
“We were all brought up in the country and were reminded of that when we had a retreat at Eastwoodhill Arboretum,” Williams said. “The colours were turning so there was just a touch of orange, but mainly it was green all around and that is what we put into the quilt.”
And they have been further a field in their quest for inspiration. Three of the four contributors recently spent a couple of months in America where they traversed the patchwork of states, visiting quilt shows and galleries.
“It is an art form that is really easy to click with,” Deb Williams said. “Personally, it’s working with the different colours and textures that I enjoy. I just love it.”
After tonight’s opening, A Taste Of Quilting will be installed at Tairawhiti Museum until July 3.
The Gisborne Herald, ‘The Guide’ May 26 2005
Artists unite for annual show
EARLIER this year members of Gisborne Pottery Group were set a task — to create a teapot in any form, as long as it was functional.
That is “functional” in the loosest possible terms, as illustrated in the array of pots that form the centrepiece of the Gisborne Artists Society and Pottery Group annual Winter Show, which opens at Tairawhiti Museum tomorrow.
Pots shaped like monks and queens, ones with Japanese influences and even one bristling with spikes help make up the collection of pots. But back to that issue of functionality: “Fill and pour”, the group warns, “at your own peril”.
The collection is only a small part of the groups’ joint Winter Show, with more than 120 works filling the museum’s main display space.
As well as the quirky pots for pouring tea, there are more serious vessels from Seymour May’s gorgeous cut-out bowls and Heather Van Wyk’s heavy-bellied lamp stands, to Marilyn Golding’s flax-accented pots and Jaimie Quirk’s jagged sculptural forms.
And from the Artists Society there are paintings both abstract and realist, along with a range of etchings, pastels and multi-media works and, of course, society stalwart Graham Mudge’s instantly-recognisable wooden sculptures.
The result is an enormous array of work from more than 30 artists — Gisborne’s own “affordable art show”.
• Gisborne Artists Society and Pottery Group’s Winter Show will be installed at Tairawhiti Museum until July 3.
From religion to royalty, scenery to sensuality .. . . just some of the works from the Gisborne Artists Society and Pottery Group Winter Exhibition (clockwise from top) Queen Bee, a ceramic work by Heather Van Wyk; Leaning Figure (totara), by Graham Mudge; Three Rivers (oil on canvas), by Grant Hughes, and crucifix (wood/ceramic), by Denis deWitt. Pictures by Dave Thomas
Gisborne Herald April 2005
Redefine ‘youth’ label through art
YOUNG people are obnoxious. Lazy. And useless at art.
If such stereotypical statements get your guard up, up-coming Youth Week 2005 is the perfect opportunity to prove them all wrong.
An art exhibition at Tairawhiti Museum welcomes artists aged 15 to 25 to display their art in the Discovery Room throughout May.
The theme is “redefine”, the theme for the whole of the Youth Week that kicks off on May 9.
It is about challenging stereotypes and celebrating young people for who they really are, museum education officer Anne Young said.
Art work must be submitted to the museum by April 29 to be eligible for the exhibition that will also offer the opportunity for selected young artists t sell their work.
The idea is that the exhibition will be an expression of how young people see themselves, rather than society.
The exhibition will be the venue for the Youth Week launch on May 9 at 1O.3Oam. The public is invited.
Other events for Youth Week are still to be finalised.
Gisborne Herald April 7 2005
Images invite ‘free interpretation’
Given the recent death of Pope John Paul 2— and all the religious introspection that has brought — it is especially timely that parts of Lee Harrop’s latest exhibition should focus on that most potent of religious symbols, the cross.
Not that the Mount Maunganui-based photographer is trying to tell viewers what they should think. Rather, she hopes the images — made more anonymous by their lack of titles — will inspire “free interpretation of the narrative portrayed”.
“Since the beginning of time, illustration has helped shape cultures by providing a symbolic and/or metaphorical representation for ideas, religion, myth and science,” she said. “I am interested in this personification of ideas and its effect in shaping society.”
In her collection of nearly 20 images, 36-year-old Harrop also examines the role of women in society — looking at the issues of dominance and subservience, at women as objects of worship.
And she has also constructed five small sculptural pieces to complement the largely two-dimensional structure of the exhibition.
The show — entitled R-Evolution — is Harrop’s third solo installation since she first began exhibiting in 2001. The former Gisborne policewoman, and now police forensic photographer, began by showing realist images of Mongrel Mob members and other residents of the city’s colourful London Street and has since shown pieces dealing with portraiture, scenery and abstraction.
Her most recent show, at Tauranga’s George Perry Dealer Gallery, looked at the meeting between fashion clothing and art.
Despite its sometimes grisly nature, Harrop says her work as one of two forensic photographers who cover the Bay of Plenty is helpful to her art photography.
“You have to have such a high technical standard for forensic photography that it really complements my abstract work,” she said.
“The challenge and enjoyment in photography is in using the camera to get the results, rather than using a digital camera then manipulating the images on a computer.”
Lee Harrop’s exhibition, R-Evolution, will be installed in Tairawhiti Museum’s gallery two until May 18.
Gisborne Herald April 2005
Journey of experimentation in retrospective show
If offered the opportunity to exhibit in Tairawhiti Museum’s cavernous main gallery— and at short notice, to boot — many artists would find it hard to pull together enough work.
Not Jarad Ferris.
The 26-year-old’s career may be in its early stages but he has still managed to track down nearly 30 pieces to install in his biggest show to date.
And he has not just hung everything he could lay his hands on. The paintings, drawings and one print selected are, he says, strictly retrospective. No 2005 works have been included, and what did make the grade has been installed chronologically to take viewers through Ferris’s work over the last eight years.
That lengthy space of time is referred to in the show’s title, Life Suspended By Passing Breath. But here, there is no suspension in style. As viewers circle the deep blue walls they are taken along on Ferris’s wild journey of experimentation with style, content and medium.
• Jarad Ferris last exhibited in Gisborne at The Pencil Gallery in February Life Suspended By Passing Breath will be installed at Tairawhiti Museum until May 18.
Gisborne Herald March 16 2005
Museum left 'in good heart'
AFTER announcing he would be stepping down from the role as director of Tairawhiti Museum, director Michael Spedding yesterday said he was confident he was leaving the museum in good heart.
In the eight years since he assumed the position, visitor numbers had more than doubled (to up to 60,000 a year), the board was more representative of the community it spoke for, community support had strengthened, the museum had a strong place in the national museum sector, it had a vibrant education and outreach programme, its exhibition programme had developed to a high standard and, though cash remained short, it had at least tied Gisborne District Council to multi-year funding — meaning staff could plan with more certainty, he said.
A major challenge yet to meet, however, was the provision of adequate storage for museum
collections. Staff levels remained stretched, he said. The “professional and committed” staff he did
have, however, had already had a couple of test runs at working under another director.
In 2000, business consultant Sheryl Smail filled in for three months while Spedding took sabbatical leave to work on his pet project — investigating the heritage landscape relating to the Cook Landing Site in the Kaiti Beach area.
The Tairawhiti National Heritage Project again took him away for half of 2004, during which time Dr Jennie Harre Hindmarsh was seconded from Te Papa Tongarewa: The Museum of New Zealand to fill the chair while Mr Spedding concentrated on sourcing funding for the project.
The board will begin advertising for a replacement director this week
Gisborne Herald March 16 2005
Spedding looks to the future as he moves on
HOLDING their traditional audience while extending their reach into the community is a major challenge facing museums of the future, says historian Michael Spedding, who yesterday announced he had resigned from his role as director of Tairawhiti Museum.
The announcement came 12 years after Mr Spedding moved to Gisborne to work at what was then Gisborne Museum and Arts Centre — first as a curator and the last eight years as director.
It is a move he says will free him up to spend time on multiple projects, mostly within the arena of cultural heritage.
“A big personal interest for me is researching and writing about the future of heritage culture and institutions like the museum. Where are these places going to be in 20 years time?”
Mr Spedding already has his own feelings on that, believing that institutions that fail to be relevant and accessible will themselves become relegated to the archives of history.
“Tairawhiti Museum has done a lot of work in that direction but there is more to be done,” he said.”
“There is still a perception among some that museums and art galleries are elitist but I think we can be proud of what we have achieved here, especially in terms of our commitment to biculturalism.”
But Mr Spedding — who steps down at the end of April — said the road to biculturalism had not always been smooth.
While many sectors of the community had embraced the museum’s tighter focus on Maori arts and heritage, some had not. But he was philosophical about that — he refused to accept that “never the twain shall meet”, but did concede that, sometimes, they will not.
When he and wife Hazel moved to Gisborne in 1993 they received a warm welcome
— a real estate agent offering them the use of her Wainui beachfront flat while they looked for a home.
Things have changed in that the addition of two now pre-teen daughters doubled the size of the family, but Rotorua born Mr Spedding says they have no plans to leave.
He will commute to Palmerston North to tutor Massey University students in heritage and museum studies. He will also travel to do heritage consulting and continue his work as a member of the national Historic Places Trust board.
It will mean the accumulation of a substantial number of air points but he says now is the right time to surrender his directorship of the museum.
“Basically, I felt I had achieved most of the tasks I had set for myself and I was excited by the prospect of seeking new challenges. Plus, institutions like the museum will always benefit from new ideas and fresh vigour to take them into the next stage of their development.”
Museum chairman Michael Chrisp said the board wished Spedding well in his efforts to seek new challenges.
“Mike has made a major contribution to the direction and progress of the museum, which is now in a strong and viable position,” he said, confirming that the board was keen to retain Mr Spedding as a consultant to continue work on the Tairawhiti National Heritage Project.
The project — facilitated by the museum — involved investigating the heritage landscape relating to the Cook Landing Site in the Kaiti Beach area, with a new maritime museum on the waterfront just one of the proposed outcomes.
Spedding’s belief in what museums are there to do has not wavered over the years.
“I think it is to give the community it serves a sense of identity, a really strong sense of belonging,” he said.
“What is critical for the sector now is to work out how to hold on to its traditional support base, while finding out how it can be relevant to those who may never have stepped into a museum in their lives.”
Spedding looks to the future as he moves on
by Kristine Walsh