ArtStation presents a creative feast

Newly formed Mercury Bay art group, NgArti, is busy transforming the old fire station in Monk Street, Whitianga, into a pop-up art gallery known as the ArtStation. The venue will stage an artistic feast over the coming weeks with three different and unique exhibitions on show, highlighting many of the themes associated with the Tuia 250 – Encounters commemorations.


NgArti founding member Isabel Gilbert Palmer said the idea has really captured the imagination of so many creatives – far more than anticipated. “We originally were aiming for maybe ten participants, but more and more people have been asking to get involved. We will have about 20 different artists showing their work which is amazing,” she said.


This inaugural show at the ArtStation features an exciting combination of one individual and two group exhibitions. It will be the debut for Wharekaho artist, Peter Matai Johnston of Ngati Hei, with his work “Swapped my lands for blankets” telling a moving and deeply personal story relating directly to the history of Mercury Bay.


Peter’s work will show alongside a visiting exhibition “He Tirohanga Ki Tai (A View from the Shoreline): Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery”, an exhibition featuring both leading and emerging Maori artists whose works critique the European perspective on Cook’s arrival and the ensuing colonial experience from an indigenous viewpoint. The exhibition first went on show at Tairawhiti Museum, Gisborne, not far from the site of the first European landings and comes to Whitianga after showings in New York and the Calder and Lawson gallery, Hamilton.


“When I discovered Peter’s powerful work, I knew he needed a platform to present it and when a group of us visited He Tirohanga ki Tai exhibition in Hamilton, the idea of bringing them together led to this exciting venture. We established NgArti to present three different exhibitions under one roof and the timing is perfect during the TUIA 250 commemorations when there will be many conversations about discovery, encounters, new voices and new stories,” said Isabel.


A collaborative display of work by well-known local and national artists under the banner “This is Us” is the third element of the showcase and will include an eclectic mix of artists, weavers, ceramicists, print makers and writers. Among them is prominent New Zealand artist and composer, and Otama resident, Michael Smither, who offers this perspective on how art can provide a medium for communication that allows time and space for appreciation and understanding of varying points of view.


“My interest is in the philosophy and the business of making art, and in this case, it is peoples’ want and need for justice and for redress that is firing the art practise. Through the expression of art, I believe there is the potential for connectedness and balance,” he said of the touring exhibition - He Tirohanga ki Tai: Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery.


The NgArti team are excited about the potential offered by this new venue to allow more people to experience such a rich and diverse collection of artworks. “The building is ideal with its proximity to Taylors Mistake and the new plaza area, which we hope will attract many visitors. Our thanks go to Jon Marston, TCDC Property and Facilities Manager and Kirstin Richmond, TCDC Event Coordinator,” for their generous support,” said Isabel

The ArtStation will be open from 15-28 October, from 10am until 6pm daily. The NgArti artists participating include Craig and Jude Brochas, David Bryant, Noriko Oki, Estelle Withy, Phillip Fickling, Mara Hermanson, Martinus Sarangapany and Raewyn Hildreth.


The touring exhibition, He Tirohanga ki Tai, includes work from nationally known artists Robyn Kahukiwa, Derek Lardelli, Rachael Rakena, Kali Spitzer, Tina Ngata, Charlotte Graham, Tawera Tahuri, Israel Tangaroa Birch, Johnny Moetara, Emma Kitson and Numa MacKenzie.


Pictured is De-Fence by Ngahina Hohaia, Taranaki iwi, Parihaka (Ngati Moeahu, Ngati Haupoto). Photo courtesy of He Tirohanga Ki Tai: Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery.

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