Exhibition celebrates the huia and ‘op-shop’ treasures



Photo 1: Mahara Gallery Director Janet Bayly (left) with ceramic artist Kirsty Gardiner and her work, Whispers of Flight.


Wairarapa ceramic sculptor Kirsty Gardiner is determined that one of New Zealand’s most celebrated extinct native birds, the huia, will not be forgotten.

Her exhibition, Remnants and Remains, which has opened at Mahara Gallery celebrates the huia along with other endangered birds and objects which she believes deserve to be remembered.

“I confess the huia is my favourite bird,” she says. “By the end of the 19th century it had become an endangered species. The last official sighting was in 1907.

“Many Victorian women had huia-beak brooches or a pair of mounted huia in a glass dome in their parlour. High tea was a regular event and the best tea service would come out for guests.

“Tea would be served in the parlour with displays of taxidermied birds and other artefacts.”

Kirsty Gardiner recreates these “parlour favourites” in porcelain and also pays homage to another life-long fascination, the “op-shop”.

“Imagine an op-shop at the end of the 19th century,” she says. “The Rag and Bottle Shop” was London’s equivalent at the time – and mud-larking along the Thames would have been the next best option.

“Remnants and Remains was first exhibited at Aratoi, Wairarapa Museum of Art and History. Mahara Gallery Director Janet Bayly says she is thrilled Aratoi and Kirsty Gardiner agreed to bring it to Kāpiti.

“Kirsty is an outstanding talent,” she says. “She has an ability to move effortlessly between textiles and ceramics to create exceptionally detailed fine art works that offer a rich narrative.”

Kirsty Gardiner was born in South Africa. She started in pottery in the 1980s at art school and says she has never looked back.

“My initial training was in production pottery, working on my wheel and producing mostly kitchenware.

“My favourite subject at art school was ceramic history. Most people were fascinated by the potter’s wheel, but my passion was European porcelain.

 “Gradually I moved over to sculptural forms, and with this came the change from high fired earthenware to porcelain.



Photo 2: Celebrating the opening of Mahara Gallery’s latest exhibitions, Remnants and Remains and Through Female Eyes are from left: Aratoi Director Susanna Shadbolt, Kāpiti artist Gillian Cronin, Mahara Gallery Director Janet Bayly and Kirsty Gardiner. In the background is Kirsty Gardiner’s work, Innate Whispers.

Kirsty Gardiner has been a regular exhibitor since 1997. She won the Premier Award at The Portage Ceramic Awards in 2010, a merit award in 2011, and in 2013 and 2014 was a finalist in both The Portage and James Wallace Art Awards. 

Also showing at Mahara Gallery is Through Female Eyes, an exhibition of painting by Kāpiti artist, Gillian Cronin.

“So often throughout the history of art, women have been the objects of the artist’s gaze – the artist generally being male and the artist’s model or muse being female,” says Gillian.

“I wanted to turn the table and paint a woman’s-eye view of the world. In particular, having travelled extensively, I wanted my story in paint to be celebrating the lives of ordinary women in third-world countries.”

Remnants and Remains and Through Female Eyes will be on show at Mahara Gallery until 15 September.


Matariki programme harnesses art’s capacity to heal and renew



Photo: ACE Maori Educator of the Year Ron Te Kawa (right) and Mahara Gallery Director Janet Bayly (left) hanging Ron’s Welcome Home We Love You quilt which will be a feature of the Gallery's 2019 Matariki exhibition.


Terror in Christchurch and concern about climate change have been the motivation for the 2019 Mahara Gallery Matariki programme which seeks to harness art’s capacity to support emotional healing and renewal.

The Gallery’s Matariki exhibition opens on Saturday 22 June and is supported by a programme of 10 workshops or events in late June and July.

“Matariki is the time for remembering those we have lost, for reconnecting as a community, and celebrating rebirth and renewal,” says Gallery Director, Janet Bayly.

“The year has so far delivered events that have been confronting in the case of the Christchurch massacre and challenging in the case of the climate change marches.

“In putting together a programme for Matariki, we looked for a way to harness art’s capacity to support emotional healing and renewal.”

Janet Bayly says thirteen artists will be exhibiting in the gallery and some will be involved in the 10 workshops or events during June and July in which the community is invited to participate.

The exhibiting artists include Pania Barrett, Danielle Burns, Di Connal, John Foster, Kath Foster, Kate Hartmann, Ramila Parbhu, Robyn Kahukiwa, Maungarongo Te Kawa, Colin McCahon, JoAnne Mere, Tracey Morgan and Yvonne de Mille.

“Many of the artists who responded to our invitation told us about their reaction to what happened in Christchurch and the effect that it’s had on their work,” says Janet Bayly.

“Otaki artist Ramila Parbhu, who uses recycled materials to create her works, told us that the Christchurch shootings had left her with ‘an overwhelming sense of sadness’ and that art is her form of healing and grounding in the world.

“We are thrilled to have a quilt from the wonderful Woodville-based fabric artist, Ron Te Kawa. Ron’s quilts all tell a story and there’s always a connection with the past because his ancestors are never far from him.

“Ron was recently honoured as ACE Maori Educator of the Year. We are thrilled that as well as exhibiting his work, he will run workshops on 10 and 11 July during which participants will create a Matariki bird using fabrics.”

Janet Bayly says the Gallery is honoured to have been offered a 1959 Colin McCahon landscape as part of the exhibition.

“It’s an example of the concern McCahon felt about environmental degradation. McCahon was in a distinct minority at that time, but when we fast forward to today with its very pressing concern for the environment, we can see just how far-sighted he was.”

Another of the features of the Matariki programme will be workshops run by Otaki artist, Yvonne de Mille, widely known for her work in kite and lantern making. She will run lantern-making workshops in the Gallery on 25 June and 2 July.

She will also run a workshop which involves painting a tree through the seasons on 27 June.

“Yvonne’s kites and lanterns have been a popular part of Matariki exhibitions in the past. It’s great that she has been able to be a key figure in our programme and artist in residence this year.”

One of the more unusual exhibitors is Kath Foster of Paraparaumu who re-shapes domestic furniture such as tables.

She was born and grew up in North Auckland, the daughter of artist parents. Work by her mural painter father John, who was taught in Auckland by Colin McCahon, is also included in the exhibition.

Photo: ACE Maori Educator of the Year Ron Te Kawa (right) and Mahara Gallery Director Janet Bayly (left) hanging Ron’s Welcome Home We Love You quilt which will be a feature of the Gallery's 2019 Matariki exhibition.


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