The meditative, expressive and the bucolic
Moments of the mystic and contemplative surface in the Artists and Potters exhibition at Tairawhiti Museum.
Artist, philosopher and spiritual seeker Peter Harris’s painting Life is a River Without Banks looms large at the entrance like Gandalf at the Bridge of Khazad-dam. The Chagall-like work in fact features a wizard who stands above a saint-like figure on a long jetty or bridge; an angel, a white hare, a red rooster and menorah against a cobalt blue sky.
This year’s exhibition includes photographs by members of the Gisborne Camera Club and to the left of Harris’s warm drama is Elenor Gill’s highly stylised photographic image of an orb and what appears to be an embossed, translucent sprig of magnolia.
Inside the gallery Julia Rae’s striking photograph depicts a metallic-looking motorhome at night under a nebulous column of stars — the Milky Way. The picture sits with Maiko Lewis-Whaanga’s work that includes tiny origami moths or butterflies that ascend towards a semi-circular geometric, lino print pattern. Another work by Lewis-Whaanga, Manifestation of the Moment is zen-like in its simplicity and more contemplative for the same reason. At the left of a sumi-e like, incomplete circle even tinier origami moths ascend the picture plane.
The Artists and Potters, and now photographers’, exhibition is by nature eclectic and includes accomplished works such as Graeme Nicoll’s painting Abandoned in which a derelict villa with a buckled red rust gate in the foreground stands in a sunny, overgrown grassland under a sheer East Coast sky. The bucolic scene contrasts with Nicoll’s painting Headland. Quick brushwork flattens the forms of East Coast promontory, sea, sky and foreground with broad patches of colour and scribbles of shrub.
The headland Te Kuri a Paoa-Young Nicks Head in Kath McLaughlin’s oil painting is given a fresh treatment: it is a diminutive but luminous landform that barely divides the soft, muted tones of sea and sky with peach highlights in the early morning cloud.
Surf lifesaving coach and all round waterman Dion Williams explores the light at sunrise and sunset in his photographs of the sea and river.
A life drawing in pastel, Auburn Nude, by Norman Maclean shows the artist’s hand in the confident mix of colour for skin tones and quickness in the modelling of limbs and curves.
With its exuberant optical effect, Kay Bayley’s photograph of colour pencils whose tips converge at the centre of a circle contrasts sharply with Maclean’s drawing.
Photographers Louise Savage and Sandy Richmond explore textures in their close-up images. Savage’s Shorthorn Bull focuses on the animal’s face with its jet black, knotty whorls and notched ear while, despite the prosaic title, I See Ewe, Richmond’s multi-textured close-up of a sheep’s face is surprisingly poignant.
Ceramics and other three-dimensional objects are arranged on plinths in the gallery and include Trudi Roe’s large, earthenware poppy pods and Harris’s mysterious Process Clock with mechanical laser print.
Potter Seymour May’s masterfully crafted raku pots take up two plinths and seem to anchor the exhibition with an object for contemplation: a large mottled black and cloudy, terracotta pearl pot.