First walk through the Tauranga Art Gallery doors in an unconscionable age. I could blame Covid19, the closed off roads, the weird parking or the flower lines. Who cares, I’m here this early Sunday afternoon.
You forget how breathtaking it is walking into the Atrium. I do quite literally take a breath. The wall hangings, their designs and colours are soaring, imposing but contemporary gentle – you could find them in a millennial sitting room (open plan). It’s the stunning work of Christina Pataialii.
First stop the Youth Art Awards – these will confirm there is hope for the future of everything.
I peer into the Kereama Taepa lift (again); it’s become a habit. I try to see something new every time I look in before the doors glide across my eyes.
Up the small and closed in stairs so I am surrounded by the graffiti colour of the walls. Bliss.
Into the small gallery, turn left, at the top of the stairs. I’d facebook posted an image of this exhibition but I had no idea how interesting it would be. Stunning in fact. It initially looks like a cavern of treasure, ancient treasure. Then I look more closely at the deliberate imperfections and foibles of the work – it’s a piss take. Beautifully executed, glowing in the dark. The Gallery Assistant points out several aspects of this work – including the nail/spear in the wall at the back and encourages me to read the exhibition explanation. Being me, I go back to see if I can find the genitalia – so laugh out loud.
This collection of work, this body of work – this exciting collection of embellished clay should be bought by “somebody” for their corporate foyer – it would win the brave and frighten the weak. Or, “somebody” should purchase this lock stock and hanging strings as a travelling exhibition – after the times we’ve been through, this is definitely worth a look at.
My fear of heights and of falling through the glass panels in the floor of the main upstairs gallery should be a psychological barrier to viewing exhibitions hung there. In reality I’ve found the enforced standing back has enhanced my appreciation of many of the works. This lot are big. This lot are forthright political statements and like the assemblage of clay in that small and dark room I’ve just spent so long it – fulfilling an inherent role of art…art is…art is a political statement.
There’s a teeny, tiny perfectly formed little shop downstairs with interesting items to buy. There are clean toilets. Children are positively enjoyed and encouraged and the Gallery Assistants are wonderful and welcoming, informative and interesting. I’m offered a brochure as soon as I am within passing distance of the counter.
Make sure you allow enough time to visit all the spaces in the gallery – come to think of it I forgot to go in the Vault. Our beautiful little art gallery was once a bank. When you’ve finished go on out onto the newly refurbished Wharf Street – finally, I mean finally, it’s looking amazing and at the expense of annoying you all, starting to look like Whakatane outside the Library and Exhibition space.
If you’re looking for a “holiday at home” activity I’d be making this top of my list – particularly if the day’s cold or wet. And if you don’t fancy coffee and cake, go along The Strand (so cosmopolitan now) to the best fish and chip shop in the world…well in Tauranga!
I didn’t go home I went for a walk/totter up Devonport Road – but that’s another story.
Christina Pataialii Proximity & Distance in the Atrium until 6th June 2021
Laurie Steer The Abundance of Water until 18th July 2021
Lisa Chandler The Dividing Line until 20 June 2021
Rosemary Balu. Rosemary Balu is the founding and current Managing Editor of ARTbop. She purchases her power from Trustpower and is a beneficiary of the Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust. Rosemary has arts and law degrees from the University of Auckland. She has been a working lawyer and has participated in a wide variety of community activities where information gathering, submission writing, community advocacy and education have been involved. Interested in all forms of the arts since childhood Rosemary is focused on further developing and expanding multi-media ARTbop as the magazine for all the creative arts in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.