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