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Riverside studio exhibition opens

Light off the river outside three Gisborne artists’ studio/gallery lends itself to inspiration and to the exhibition space. The building is the historic Plunket building in Palmerston Road, the artists are Amanda Rutherford, Eva Zwinnen and Jess Blackwood and the studio is named after the river that flows past the windows — Te Awa.

“I think the river inspires us,” says Rutherford.

“The light is wonderful in here. It’s great to watch the river change. On a sunny day the light sparkles.”

Historic Places Tairawhiti plans to convert the Tairawhiti Heritage Trust-owned building into a heritage centre, a base for the organisation. The rooms will continue to be available as studio and exhibition space, says Rutherford.

She and Zwinnen are full-time mums while Blackwood is a busy GP.

“We carve out a space for creativity whenever we can,” says Rutherford.

Her work is exploratory and dips into various styles. One landscape is Impressionistic — appropriately so, given the early modernist’s fascination with the play of light, but the lower half of the painting is dotted with daubs, a style that points to the abstracts Rutherford is working on at the moment.

“I love Aboriginal and indigenous art but a lot of my painting is about process. I work a lot with texture, layers and colour.”

In another room two earlier works depict thin outlines of domestic interiors that speak of human absence despite the open doors and appliances. Each is daubed in places with dirty orange, the colour of a splash-stained white wall.

They are called Neither Here Nor There.

“That was a strange, dislocated time of my life,” says Rutherford.

“The absence of people represents a kind of disconnect.”

Absent from Te Awa when the Guide visited, but connected by their art there, were Zwinnen and Jess Blackwood.

Blackwood is working up the Coast, explains Rutherford. Zwinnen emails to say thanks for popping down to the studio, and sorry she couldn’t make it.

“Vomiting child eeeek. Here’s a quick blurb about my paintings.

“This landscape series is called The Harvest. We live out at Patutahi on a hill that looks out over vineyards and cropping land. We also have an expansive view of the sky and I often find myself just staring out the window, immersed in the colours. Throughout the seasons the landscape is always changing, providing me with new colour combinations to paint. I am particularly drawn to winter when the colours are more subdued and earthy. My inspiration comes from finding the beauty in the earth and the sky, days that are grey, winds that are light, and the feeling of serenity.”

On the walls of Te Awa’s main space are works by Blackwood. These are sparse, calm, river-like, or seascapes, well-suited to the exhibition space with the Taruheru visible through the windows. In the shared studio are other works by Blackwood. One is a landscape painted in scraped, sub-marine colours that recall John Walsh’s artworks. Another, possibly of the lighthouse at Tuahine Point, is redolent with reds and golds and brings to mind play of luminosity and vapour in the work of 19th century British painter William Turner.

An exhibition of works by Amanda Rutherford, Eva Zwinnen and Jess Blackwood opens at the Te Awa studios in the Heritage Plunket Building tomorrow at 6pm.

TE AWA: Artist Amanda Rutherford details a work in the shared studio space she and painters Eva Zwinnen and Jess Blackwood call Te Awa. Based in the historic Plunket building in Palmerston Road, the artists open an exhibition of their work tomorrow. Picture by Liam Clayton