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Celebration of surfing

A vibrant new show with a definite beachy vibe has opened at Hastings City Art Gallery — Te Whare Toi o Heretaunga.

The Path is a joyous celebration of surfing, but that doesn't mean it's a show just for surfers.

A wide variety of artists and mediums come together to explore the effects of surfing and its subcultures on artistic practice, alongside the significance of surf culture within Hawke's Bay and the wider Te Moananui a Kiwa region.

A number of Gisborne names appear in the list of those exhibiting, including Brian Campbell, Troy Conole, Margaret Hansen, Damon Meade, Richard Rogers, Steve Gibbs and Tony Ogle.

John Walsh, originally from Tolaga Bay, is also represented. He will join Hansen and Aaron Kereopa and author Aaron Topp for a panel discussion at the exhibition on Friday, January 21.

In all, 34 artists are exhibiting, guaranteeing something for everyone — from deeply calming, reassuring scenes that draw the viewer in, to joy-filled works that embrace and give a taste of the freedom that surfing offers. But don't be mistaken — this isn't a show of “surf art”, exhibitions curator Clayton Gibson — also a man with Gisborne connections — says.

“It is an exhibition of work by a group of talented creatives who share something in common,” he says.

The age of artists featured spans the decades, from 1950s to early 2000s, and the work exhibited reflects many of the influences on surf culture over that time.

“The gender imbalance in the artists involved reflects the time period covered, when women growing up in the 60s, 70s and 80s were discouraged to surf,” Gibson says.

Surfing in general has its roots in Polynesian culture, with surfing brought to Aotearoa from Hawaiki.

“Here in Heretaunga, we are linked directly to the oral history surrounding surfing through the story of how Kahungunu won the hand of Rongomaiwahine in Māhia,” Gibson says.

This uniquely local story is explained in full as you enter the exhibition.

Gibson says surfers take years to perfect their craft and study the environment around them, in much the same way a practising artist does.

“Some of these artists have perfected their surfing over decades while others have just begun the journey. Much like in art, once a surfer masters the craft, an individual style of expression emerges. And the trained eye can recognise these individual signatures at a glance.”

Those instantly recognisable artistic signatures can be seen in the work of Claudia Kogachi, Walsh, Ogle, and Aaron Kereopa in The Path, Gibson says.

Other artists include Glen Armstrong, Kent Baddeley, Jordan Barnes, Jeremy Bennett, Mauricio Benega, Lindsay Crooks, Peter Day, Scott Gardiner, Aaron Greaves, Bill Hayes, Joanna Joseph, Clive Kelly, Luke Kelly, Luke Kerr, Peter Lambert, Daryn Mcbride, John McLean, Peter Miller, Alex Monteith, Christian Nicolson, Isaac Petersen and Craig Potton.

Items from surfboard collector James Newby and author Aaron Topp are also included.

“This show gives our community a unique glimpse into the contemplation that can be found alone in the studio or looking to the horizon from a surfboard. It's a feeling of place and mindful contemplation,” Gibson says.

The Path is open in the Main Gallery until March 13.

Floor talk and documentary screening with Peter Day — Friday, January 21, 12pm–1pm. The Path celebration evening — Friday, January 21, 5.30pm. The Path panel discussion with artists John Walsh, Aaron Kereopa, Aaron Topp and Margaret Hansen — Saturday, January 22, 11am–12.15pm. Floor talk with Dr Steve Gibbs — Sunday, January 23, 11am–12pm. Book launch Aaron Topp: Nor'east Swell — Thursday, February 3, 5.30pm. Please note, all visitors to the gallery while these events are on will need their My Vaccine Pass scanned before entry. For further information head to www.hastingscityartgallery.co.nz

— Hawke's Bay Today and Gisborne Herald

BEACHY VIBE: The Path, which features several Gisborne artists, is open in the Main Gallery at Hastings City Art Gallery — Te Whare Toi o Heretaunga, until March 13. Picture supplied