15 September 2020

Exhibition: Aiko Robinson

Clicking through the various collections on show at the Auckland Art Fair earlier this year, I was delighted to came across three exquisitely executed etchings by artist Aiko Robinson

Among the dense foliage of leaves, branches and blossoming flowers swathes of fabric fall loosely around the limbs and torsos of a headless copulating couple. The hands on the wristwatch point to 6 and 9 and the cityscape in the background reminds us that the lovers could be stumbled upon at any moment. 

Aiko Robinson, A Secret Hour, 2018 
etching and chine-collé on washi paper, 36x10cm, edition of 20 + 2 APs.

Bringing together all these elements of erotic voyeurism, humour, ornate textiles, and the natural world are in direct reference to the traditional Japanese erotic art of shunga, translated as ‘spring pictures’. Shunga rose in popularity during the Edo Period (1600-1868) alongside ukiyo-e, which translates as ‘pictures of the floating world’ depicting dreamy, idealised versions of the city’s pleasure districts and popular leisure activities of the ruling classes. 

Robinson first discovered shunga as an undergraduate at Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland and although initially adopting the genre as a way to shock her professors and rebel against the perception of her work as being too cute and feminine, found a rich tradition of pre-modern erotic art that celebrated sexuality, void of the taboo and shame that surrounds pornography in Western and Japanese society today. Interestingly, she finds herself not only educating Western audiences about shunga but in Japan there is also limited knowledge about this genre, which has only recently been brought to the attention of the global art world though landmark exhibitions such as ‘Shunga: Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art’ at the British Museum in 2014.

After graduating, Robinson had planned to have an extended working holiday in Japan but as fate would have it she was the inaugural recipient of the Auckland Print Studio residency providing her the valuable opportunity to delve further into the subject matter producing a stunning suite of lithographs under the guidance of studio manager John Pusateri, who she credits as giving her the encouragement to integrate her explicitly sexual images with her signature visual puns which include mushrooms, mussels, loose screws and pussy cats. This resulted in a string of exhibitions across the country and a scholarship to complete a masters in printmaking at Tokyo University of Fine Arts in 2017.  

Aiko Robinson, Cherry Popped
woodcut on paper, 42x62cm, edition of 8

In contrast to Elam, which was highly concept driven, Tokyo University allowed her to focus on developing her technical skills in printmaking and drawing. Her first year was dedicated to studying traditional woodblock techniques although she was warned from the outset that she would never be a master, due to the rigorous division of labour applied in traditional Japanese print studios, with design, carving and printing being all highly specialised areas in their own right. She noticed that woodblock was more popular with international students and that Japanese students were more concerned with exploring and perfecting intaglio processes. The level of detail and crisp, dense lines that can be achieved in an etching compelled her to explore the process further resulting in some of her most exceptional prints to date.

After accomplishing many printmaking techniques, she has discovered that there isn’t one that captures her interest from beginning to end and instead is attracted to different parts of each process. For woodblock she loves preparing and carving the wood, in etching she enjoys preparing the different paper and putting it through the printing press and she is always amazed by the magical alchemy of lithography. Working across printmaking, drawing and watercolour, her process for each medium is the same, starting by drawing in the figures and then adding the details with the aim of drawing the viewer in to spend time with her work. Although the subject matter may cause embarrassment to some audiences, this is by no means her intention, consciously opting for a subdued colour palette and disorientating the viewer with contorted headless figures simultaneously exposed and concealed making it unclear where they begin and end. 

Aiko Robinson, Pillow Picture #3, 2020 
watercolour, gouache and ink on paper, 53x73cm

Her recent work during the global lockdown has included a series of watercolours with gauche, allowing her to work on a larger scale, experiment with compositions and taking a step back from her use of highly intricate details.  

These works will be featured alongside some of her woodcuts and etchings from her time in Japan. You can see them at;
 Fox Jensen Gallery in Auckland in September and October 
and at PG Gallery in Christchurch later this year. 

14 September 2020

10 Years of Waitakere Printers Ink: Barrel Store Exhibition, 18-27Sept

FINDING MY TRIBE, by Tracy Singer

During the Covid lockdown, there was ample time for self-reflection and to appreciate the advantages an art community brings to artists (both in person and through social media), such as inspiration, knowledge, and keeping your mental well-being intact. 

This year will be the 10th year for our group, Waitakere Printers Ink, to be working out of Corbans Estate Art Centre (CEAC), in Waitakere, West Auckland. Founded on our common interest in printmaking, some members have come and gone to pursue their practise or moved away, however many of the original members are still involved. 


The group is a way to promote the love of printmaking in all its mediums. It helps foster camaraderie and networking, enables access to products, raises awareness by learning from others, and provides exhibition opportunities. I highly recommend joining a group, to connect and share the technical and conceptual developments you are going through, as I’ve found the group helps me to emerge with fresh direction and greater clarity. 

Creativity is more than just what you create with your hands. Every artist, writer, photographer draws from a pool of inspiration, from creatives past and present. Even if an idea starts with one person, it can snowball with a collaboration of like minds.
I am reminded of a quote from the great cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead, who said, “Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have.”


Ruby Oakley was the initial organiser of the group. She had attended a class with Alexis Neal at a Summer School event at Corbans Estate Art Centre (CEAC), along with Dianne Charraz. Diane's interest in printmaking had been formed while studying a Visual Arts degree at Manukau Institute of Technology. When CEAC brought back Alexis to run a monoprinting class, a plan was hatched to carry on with what they had learned and they booked a room at CEAC with a press, where we now meet monthly. 

Our first exhibition was in the studio, from 25 November to 4 December 2011. This space was originally the garage for Corban's Homestead. The group then moved to the Barrel Store at CEAC and exhibited in that space too. In 2013 we had our first ‘Barrel Store Exhibition’. This first year we learned a valuable lesson, with the timing not coordinating with CEAC’s yearly art exhibition. Lighting the large dark space was also a huge technical issue. As the Barrel Store exhibitions become an annual event, trial and error lead to the group acquiring our own lighting, which can be brought into the space and then removed. 


At the time Ruby was working at the West Coast Gallery in Piha, and suggested we put on an exhibition there in December 2013. This drew a lot of interest from the local community and visitors. The logistics were challenging for a large group but it brought the group together.  The collaborative artwork was based on a quilt design, made up of 10x10cm images. 



In 2014, Toni Hartill coordinated another Waitakere Printers Ink group exhibition, this time at the Bruce Mason Centre. In 2015, we had another successful group exhibition at Studio One in Ponsonby. The group filled all the downstairs space, in conjunction with Ruby having a solo show in the main room for her work. 
Here are a few of the artworks from that show:


It is never easy for a not-for-profit group, especially in these times of uncertainty, but sometimes challenges bring creativity to the surface. In David Eagleton’s ‘The Creative Brain’, he researches imagination and the human brain. He tells how creativity can be used in prison rehabilitation, giving inmates a creative outlet that changed the way in their daily thought processes. Creativity gives us a sense of identity and purpose.
 
In closing, I’d like to encourage you with these 4 steps for attempting creative living:
Try something new  Get off the path of least resistance
Push boundaries  Don’t be afraid of failure
Life is so much more fulfilling with the encouragement and support of other creatives, so if you can, consider joining or starting a group, or as the title suggests, find your tribe.


To celebrate 10 years of the Waitakere Printers Ink group,
come along to our 2020 Barrel Store exhibition at CEAC from 18-27 September. 
Further details are listed here: Barrel Store Exhibition 2020  

08 September 2020

Interview: Hamish Oakley-Browne, Te Kowhai Print Trust

 By Ina Arraoui


With open access community print shops being few and far between in Aotearoa I was curious to learn more about Te Kowhai Print Trust (TKPT) Studio in Whangarei which appears to be a thriving print hub with regular workshops, annual residencies, community programs, print events and a steadily growing membership. 

Offering such a wide range of activities keeps manager Hamish Oakley-Browne on his toes, having to balance his time between grant writing, tutoring and his own art practice and free-lance arts facilitation. Last week I had the pleasure of chatting with him about the challenges of running a print studio and his vision for the future of TKPT. 

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Originally from Auckland, Oakley-Browne completed a Bachelor of Applied Arts at NorthTec in Whangarei in 2014. Inspired by renegade print studios in the US, such as Cannonball Press and Evil Prints, which have a very democratic, collaborative and hands-on approach to printmaking, Oakley-Browne quickly gravitated towards print media to explore a creative style he has coined 'mythopoetic'. Favouring woodcut to depict real and imaginary creatures in a pop surrealist style, his work has a strong graphic quality referencing comic book culture. 

While volunteering at TKPT, Oakley-Browne and fellow print artist Martinus Sarangapany came up with the idea to hold a steamroller printing event, similar to those in the US, reasoning 'if they can do it, why can’t we?' And so, in 2015 Printapalooza was born. 

With the support of TKPT and tutors at NorthTec, the team printed an impressive 17 wood blocks, each one over 2 metres high, one for the artist and the other for the trust to fundraise for the following year. Now an annual event, Printapalooza is very modestly promoted as the biggest print event in Northland, although on second glance it appears to be the biggest in the whole country. For Oakley-Browne the event is not only a successful fundraiser but a great way for the print community to come together on a collaborative project and promote printmaking to wider audiences. The Whangarei Fringe Festival in October is a collaborative event where participants can co-create a comic book printed in various media.

 

The increase in membership is also partly due to regular introductory courses where a range of different printmaking techniques can be explored. The studio is well-equipped with several presses for lithography, wood block, etching, letterpress as well as a screen-printing. In fact, they seem to be running out of space as more presses get donated on a regular basis. Maintaining, upgrading and finding a space for all the equipment is an ongoing concern for Oakley-Browne, who hopes to reoccupy the adjacent building to allow for a much-needed specialised screen-printing studio. More space would also enable increased access for community, such as visits by school groups and mentoring for at-risk youth. 



In the future he would also like to see their collection of antique presses transformed into a print museum which would also house their large print archive going back to the early 1980s when the studio was first established. Although TKTP is in the process of digitising their archive, they would like to share it globally on an open access digital platform.  

What would seem like a daunting task for most, Oakley-Browne is taking the management of TKPT in his stride. His optimism is fuelled in part by seeing the positive impact it is having on the community especially in such critical times where people are struggling to connect. Having a supportive printmaking community and a large, well-established creative sector in Northland is also encouraging for Oakley-Browne. He is grateful for the many opportunities there are to exhibit and promote his work locally. 



With an eye on the future, Oakley-Browne would also like to see TKPT embrace some of the technological innovations in contemporary printmaking like digital prints, laser-cutting and 3D printing. In saying that, he also thinks it’s important to keep traditional printmaking techniques alive and ensures there is always sufficient training and upskilling in more complex processes such as lithography. When asked what his dream print residency would be, among others he mentioned the Kariuzawa Mokuhanga residency in Japan as there are few Mokuhanga practitioners in NZ and this technique closely aligns with TKPT’s eco-friendly values, already using locally manufactured non-toxic screenprint ink donated by Live to Print. 

Despite the social and economic pressures of the present time, print studios such as TKPT will need to continue to take risks and innovate in order to stay relevant to local communities in a rapidly changing world.

For more information about TKPT's courses, events, residencies, and ways you can support their vision for printmaking, check out their website: tkpt.org/

05 August 2020

Exhibition: 'Equilibrium', Susanne Khouri, 8-25Aug, Auckland

Susanne Khouri's new exhibition, 'Equilibrium',
is on at Depot Artspace, Devonport, Auckland, from 8 - 25 August.


"These works grew out of the quietness of the lock-down period,
 during which time I had plenty of opportunities for reflection.
I began a process of drawing shapes, which I felt had an appeal 
because they inspired a kind of open-ended interpretation. 
I liked how I could bunch the shapes up in clusters, 
to make them small or large, or leave lots of space in between 
and so notice some sort of meaning change.  
They then also became metaphors for the small and large things 
we carry within us, involuntarily mostly.” – Susanne Khouri

Susanne Khouri is a Swedish-New Zealand printmaker. 
She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts, majoring in Printmaking.
The imagery is from her drawings or her photographs.
Her work is mainly abstract, using aquatint plate printing 
which allows her a subtlety of tonal variations as backgrounds, 
and screenprinting as imagery.  

For more about her work, check out her website: 

03 August 2020

Ideas for Presentation & Storage of Prints

Today I thought I'd share some ideas about products 
to help you care for the prints you have already made; 
storing, safe & easy transportation, and to present them professionally.

Standardised conservation products can be found here:
These standard storage boxes are made from 1000 micron archival boxboard, 
and pass the Photographic Activity Test (P.A.T).
They stock archival envelopes, clear polypropylene sleeves, foam board,
acid-free tissue, linen tape for framing, label pockets for filing....

Archival products available from Conservation Supplies
for storing and organising your prints and editions

For bigger prints you may need to invest in some plan drawers (horizontal)
or there are rack and furniture for hanging (vertical) that take up less space.

Plan drawers / PlanMate Hanging Storage Rack for display

Drawers and boxes are great for storage and organising at home, 
but when it comes to taking your prints out and about,
you may want something more suitable for transporting.
Here are some art bags and portfolios from Gordon Harris Art Supplies.

Cardboard Folio (up to A1), weatherproof black polypropylene carry bag (up to A2),
Calendar Folder (up to A3), Display Books with removable sleeves (up to A2).

For presentation, you may want something prettier...
I highly recommend you contact Louise, from The Binding Studio
as she is a master in this craft; especially her beautiful print presentation boxes, 
customisable folders, branded folios, artist book construction, etc
which are a wonderful compliment to your works on paper.

The Binding Studio can make your boxes (shallow or deep) in any size, 
any colour, any style, to suit your needs for odd-sized editions, or your portfolio. 
You can even get your name or logo embossed, debossed, or foiled on it!

Here are some examples of her beautiful work:

Hinged Lid Clam-Shell Print Box (with or without ribbon)
Presentation Folder, Lay-Flat Clam-Shell Box, Lidded Box with tab for business card
Boxed Folio with Screw Binding, Japanese Bound, Boxed Folder with internal folio binding
Classic A4 and A3 Folio Covers available in landscape and portrait options,
in black white or colour of your choice, plain or branded.
Various coloured album screws mean you can change contents as often as needed.

If you are interested in getting several boxes, 
to store different editions, or sizes, or a bulk purchase for an exhibition,
you can order custom options directly from The Binding Studio's website,
or click here to check out her Felt shop for some ready-made products.

Perfect Binding Workshop at The Binding Studio
In addition, Louise also runs regular workshops.
So if you are interested in learning some additional skills 
to make your work look super professional with your own 2 hands, 


If you have any other favourite storage or presentation products for prints,
please do comment below (and links for NZ companies & products)
and let us all know about them so we can support more NZ companies! 

17 July 2020

Exhibition: Anna Molineux & Rachel Schanzer, 15July-9Aug, Auckland

Stratum of Ideations is a new exhibition 
by Anna Molineux and Rachel Schanzer,
from now until 9 August,
Gallery 2 at Estuary Arts Centre in Orewa, Auckland.


 
Anna Molineux's works are inspired by body form, 
the essence and energy of our being. 
​A collection of layered monoprints and resin pieces
exploring the essence of human energy through movement and emotion
whether it be collective, in partnership or individually.
How we can empower, rejoice, love
and share our positive energy when expressing ourselves.

 

Rachel Schanzer has a BA in Visual Arts (Print and Kiln-fired Glass) from University of Western Sydney,
and also has been a Secondary School Art teacher for 28 years.

The work in this exhibition is a response to Covid19 lockdown,
where Rachel's 'new normal' lead to a low-FODMAP diet,
and creating a desire to promote home grown vegetables
and sharing of excess produce within her community.

Her art making also evolved through a process of experimentation. 
This body of work is a medley of printmaking
(zinc plate etching, woodblock, linocut and eco printing)
along with drawing, painting, cut-out and re-assembling
to create these tactile artworks,
with a focus on textures, natural hues, and a sense of playfulness.

"Ma te marama, ka matau; Ma te matau, ka ora"
Through understanding comes knowledge;
through knowledge comes life and well-being.

For more information, see www.estuaryarts.org/current-exhibitions.html
or the exhibition's Facebook event.

16 March 2020

Jacqueline Aust, 18Mar-18Apr, Wellington

Displacement is the theme of both the subject and process 
of Jacqueline Aust's new series.
Underpinned by a visit to Japan that coincided with a typhoon.
Everywhere we went we were struck by how the Japanese people 
responded to such devastation.

Jacqueline Aust, Agitation V, 2020
Monotype and intaglio, chine colle, 50x81cm, 1/1

Millions of people are displaced from their homes every decade because of war, 
natural disasters and the effects of climate change. 
Whether or not we are immediately affected 
we are reminded every day of the impact this has on our lives.

The works exhibited in 'Displaced' continue my exploration of the relationship 
between autographic mark making and a response to place. 
Traditionally the process of printmaking involves a matrix, or plate, 
from which a number of works are printed. 
These works are essentially the same and are called an edition. 
My practice is to create series of works using the same plate/s 
so that each work is unique yet has a clear visual connection 
to each other work in the series. 

The printmaking process allows the placement 
and replacement of components that leave visual traces to tell the story. 
I make material decisions based on the subject of displacement 
so the aesthetics of the final work relates to the theme.


The exhibition is on at Solander Gallery, in Wellington,
from 18 March to 18 April.
For more information, see www.solandergallery.co.nz

14 March 2020

Kylie Rusk, 17-28 March, Auckland

In her latest exhibition, Kylie Rusk continues to delve into her passion 
for the New Zealand landscape. 
Using lithographic print and paint, Kylie explores the subtle variation of colour, light and form, resulting in stunningly atmospheric works of art.


Kylie is highly interested in what the landscape holds for the individual 
in terms of memory, connection, and a sense of being. 
Travelling the coast and countryside, Kylie documents scenes 
which she then reproduces in the studio.

Kylie graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts 
from Elam School of Fine Arts in Auckland in 2007. 
Kylie has exhibited widely in solo and group exhibitions, 
primarily working in lithograph prints and acrylic on canvas.

Kylie Rusk, Whangarei Heads from Ruakaka #2
Three colour lithograph with a two colour blend, 61x28cm

Rusk’s speciality is lithography. 
This historic form of printmaking involves drawing, 
painting with tusche and etching onto stone, 
before printing the image on a lithography press. 
Her rich and unique prints represent multi-layered seascapes, 
presented in a painterly and moody style. 
Rendered with warmth and sensitivity, 
each edition is limited in number ranging anywhere from 20-50 prints.

Lithography demo in the gallery on Saturday 21 March, 11am-12pm.
Kylie has a small portable lithography press
she is able to transport to the gallery for the demo.

Grey, 37 Scanlan Street, Grey Lynn.

12 March 2020

Call for Entries: InkFest 2020, Deadline 8 May

InkMasters Cairns invites NZ printmakers to enter InkFest 2020's 
International Print Award & Exhibition 
Entries Close Friday 8 May 2020 
Exhibition dates 24 July-23 August 2020



InkMasters Biennial Print Exhibition is an international juried exhibition. 
It brings together the best printmakers from our region 
with national and international artists from around the world. 
The works entered can be any print medium (or combination of media), traditional and contemporary, including 3D works and artists' books. 
100 prints will be selected from all entries.  

Judges:
Sally Foster, Australian National Gallery, Canberra  
Ashleigh Campbell, Director NorthSite, Cairns 
International Cairns-based artist Brian Robinson 
of the Maluyligal and Wuthathi peoples 
of the Torres Strait and Cape York Peninsula.

Non-Aquistive Prizes
Dr Raya Mayo Award for Printmaking Excellence $4000 
 Award for Printmaking Merit $1000 
Award for Artist’s Book, 3D work or Novel Use of Media $1000 
Award for Innovation in Printmaking $1000 
Award for Early Career Printmaker $1000 
Further awards to be announced

For more information, see www.inkmasterscairns.com.au 

10 March 2020

Exciting New Course to Build Your Art Practice

I wanted to share with you about this exciting new 'practical-academic' course 
by Deborah Crowe, which is now open for enrolments:
Bridge: A Pracademic Approach to Building Scaffolding for Your Art Practice.

With a sustained art practice and 25+years of experience of tertiary teaching, 
postgraduate supervision and professional artist mentoring, 
Deborah specialises in working with students, artists 
and creative professionals seeking a stronger grasp 
of how to research, ways to utilise findings in your practice, 
 building strong and informative ties between research and making. 
Deborah is known for facilitating learners’ development in a style 
that is energetic, informative, robust, and empathetic.
Deborah's strategic insights will certainly help sharpen your practice!


'Bridge' is a course run over 18 weeks
 that is designed to help you develop and accelerate your art practice. 
The core aim is to build a robust research 
and contextual base that underpins your work. 
This may lead towards undertaking academic study or further education. 
The course is designed to provide you with practical tools, 
frameworks and strategies towards developing research skills, 
self-directed practice, critical and independent thinking skills, 
advanced practical skills, writing skills, and building knowledge 
and confidence in the articulation about the ideas you are developing, 
and how your practice relates to contemporary visual art.  

This course is designed for intermediate practitioners 
who have a portfolio of existing work. 
There will be coursework (practice and research-based in relation to your ideas) 
utilising an informal assessment model 
to help you gain a deeper understanding of progressions, 
strengths and areas for development in your work. 
The course structure, flexible facilitation style, 
and being part of a small cohort will provide one to one and group support 
for learners trying new things, an engaging environment for discovery learning,
 fun exercises, and will foster peer support systems. 

If this is the kind of stimulus, framework and or extension 
you want for your practice, enrol now at: www.browne.school.nz/bridge

09 March 2020

Press for Sale, Whanganui

Marty Vreede has a printmaking press for sale.
It is a 600mm wide model, 
made in 2002 at Whanganui Polytechnic. 


Hardly used, bed still in prefect condition. Generations of use still in it.
It is in Whanganui, at the Pakohe Whanganui studio. 
Needs to be up lifted from here or transported by truck.

Asking $5500 for it. 
For more information, contact Marty Vreede.


27 February 2020

Boosted: Mobile Print Shop

I'd like to tell you about a special project - 
something educational, arty, crafty, and just lots of fun - 
by our friend Graham from GTO Printers (also known as 'Inkiana Judd'). 
We want to help raise the money to get his Mobile Print Shop on the road.

In this digital age, many know printing as pressing a button on a computer. 
But there is a wonderful history to printing, going back to 1450 
and Johann Gutenberg’s invention of moveable type and the printing press.

Graham wants to share his love of printing, and especially letterpress 
by taking his 1833 Albion press to libraries, schools, markets, 
and events around Auckland and other New Zealand towns.


There are already opportunities to take the press on excursions
(so far, to Auckland Central Library, Bethel's Beach, and a local church) 
but because it weighs around 500kgs, taking it anywhere means hiring a truck. 

This fundraising campaign is to raise $3800,
to construct a purpose-built trailer with a number of special features:
Adding strong bracing to support the weight of the press. 
It needs to be capable of a one man setup when required,
 so adding lifting gear and a removable floor so it can roll up to the press. 
And also the addition of a pop-up gazebo for outdoor presentations. 

The first major out of town event is planned for May, at Featherston Booktown.
The press will be printing at workshops and walk in presentations. 
Events in Masterton and Palmerston North are also booked on this same trip.


Would you like to be part of the adventure, to help see it happen? 
You can help get the mobile print shop on the road, truly 'moveable type',
please make a donation, and it may soon be in a town near you!
If the project doesn’t reach its target, you will get your money back.
If it does reach the target, donations can claim a 33% tax deduction.

For further information, or to make a donation,
see Graham's project on the Arts Foundation's website:
https://boosted.org.nz/projects/the-mobile-print-shop

22 February 2020

Exhibition: Under Pressure, til 27 April , Masterton

Under Pressure is a showcase of contemporary printmaking 
by selected Wairarapa artists is on now at Aratoi, 
Wairarapa Museum of Art and History, in Masterton
from 22 February until 27 April 2020.


Printmaking techniques include etchings, linocuts, woodcuts, 
screen prints, collagraphs, lithographs, intaglio and relief printing. 

Linda Tilyard, Nga Tuna, 2019
Linocut

Public Talk: 11am on Saturday 22 February 
with artists Nick Brandon, Jo Lysaght, Linda Tilyard.   

Mezzotint Demonstration: 12-2pm, Saturday 22 February, Aratoi Foyer,
with Dutch international mezzotint ambassador, Nan Mulder. 

Nan Mulder also has an exhibition, Tenderness
which features five Mezzotints in the foyer. 
11 February - 29 February 

Nan Mulder, Tenderness
Mezzotint, 42x61cm 

For more information, see www.aratoi.org.nz

21 February 2020

Exhibition: Basia Smolnicki, Treasure in the Wilderness, to 14 March, Wellington

Basia Smolnicki’s mother arrived in Wellington in 1944.
She was one of 730 Polish refugee children welcomed to this beautiful land.
Having survived Siberian internment camps, 
and an epic overland journey to Uzbekistan, 
she boarded a troop ship bringing weary soldiers home to New Zealand.

Across the strait, in the Marlborough Sounds, Totaranui, is a bay
where Basia’s family and friends gather in the summer holidays. 
The area was a favourite place for Captain Cook 
to replenish his ships and recover from his long voyages. 
Cook named the bay, Shag Cove, but later explorers gave it the present name,
Resolution Bay, to honour Cook’s second vessel.

It was originally named by Māori as ata pō meaning ‘early dawn’.
Like its Māori name implies, the morning sun rises over Arapawa Island 
and reflects off the beautiful, still, blue waters of Queen Charlotte Sound. 

Shards of argillite in the shapes of small tools can be found on the sandy beach, evidence of historical food gathering and trade.
The native bush is regenerating and the place is now alive 
with birdsong and ground-dwelling weka.

Basia's new body of work, called Treasure in the Wilderness,
combines motifs of her mother’s story of survival 
with memories from this special place, ata pō.

Basia Smolnicki, Treasure in the Wilderness, 2020
Woodcut, 100x70cm, edition of 5

Basia Smolnicki, Sea Breeze in the Afternoon, 2020
Woodcut, 50x100cm, edition of 5

I loved that the works were substantial, most were 100x70cm.
They are bold graphic woodcut motifs, 
but also have sensitive and intriguing visual storytelling.
Honestly, there were several I was keen to acquire for my own walls, 
but with small edition sizes of just 5,
when I arrived a few days after the opening most were already sold out!
Deservedly so, Basia, I am a big fan.

The exhibition is on at Solander Gallery until 14 March,
I urge you to go visit if you're in the neighbourhood,
or you can check out all the images online at solandergallery.co.nz