The Art Lounge in Downtown Tauranga


In the first of a series of articles on the privately owned and operated galleries in Downtown Tauranga, ARTbop writer and photographer Lee Switzer talks with Mira Corbova-Smith of The Art Lounge.

Artist and gallery owner Mira Corbova-Smith

Mira Corbova-Smith was born in Slovakia when it was still part of Czechoslovakia, before the country split 1993. At 6 years old she gained admission to a special art school. Several years later, her tutor, unbeknown to her, submitted a painting to the Japanese Art Exhibition. At 11 years old, she won a medal from the organization.

Mira moved to London at age 22 where she met her husband to be, photographer Brian M. Smith, who was born and raised in Te Awamutu. He showed her New Zealand first in 2005. Visiting, among other places, Mt Maunganui, she said ‘This is the Place.’ But it was a long time coming. The couple were married three times, laughs Mira. First in England, second in Slovakia and then over to New Zealand.

They returned to the UK until 2012 when the dual nationalities made a final move to New Zealand. Living was difficult at first with jobs (none in Tauranga) I Hamilton, Whakatane and initially ending in Taupo, 2014. It was there Mira set up her first Art Lounge gallery. Longing for Tauranga, Mira and Brian moved to Tauranga and set up shop in the Goddard Centre, Devonport in 2016. There was a need to share and teach her art, and techniques, Mira says; she wanted a room for workshops. Shifting to 32 Devonport Rd in October 2016 gave the couple more space where she teaches various art oriented workshops and Brian offers photography classes.

They both like a small classes, usually about 5-10, so that individual attention is harnessed into friendly exchanges. Both Mira and Brian believe in the value of individual expression and encourage self-development through the creative process. The classes are informative – teaching skills in an easy-going manner, none judgmental, open to new visions.

Mira and gallery visitor

While I was talking to Mira, 3 ladies came in who had signed up for her class Colour Me In Sunday, to be held the next day. Excusing herself, Mira went over to them. They were just checking on the time. A painting titled ‘Dance with Me’ by Mira was admired by the trio. In explanation, she mentioned her husband dancing, as the colours and movement within the piece merge. It is an abstract, and if someone else sees another image – that’s okay too. After they left, Mira said the ladies knew her from the Taupo gallery. They had driven down from Whangarei for the workshop.

Mira with Dance with Me

Many of Mira’s canvases are large by most standards, more than a metre, usually square. The size allows her greater freedom for her preferred intuitive Expressionism. Paint flows in varying density, fluidly understated at times but bright overlaid seams run a course – almost like a stream of consciousness. In fact, that’s what she wants, she says. While painting, often feelings begin to permeate her mind and guides the brush, the pallet knife; the canvas itself comes alive with emotion.

Mira Corbova-Smith at work

Exuberance, understanding and insight into her own nature, provides her with an uncanny ability to quickly, quietly, perceive the character, emotion and complexity of people she meets. Several visitors to her shop have stopped, looked at a painting, and begin to cry because it makes such a strong personal connection with a past event.

Connections with the past, the present, Mira says, and the future. It is important to show, to feel to express to imagine – and it is important to forget, if the past was hurtful. Today we are okay – each person: it is not about ‘me,’ it is about ‘us.’

Mira Corbova–Smith has a vast talent that reaches deeper than thought, broader than continents. She enjoys each day, like seeing a colourful bird or frog in tree foliage during her walk to work. Or clouds so close you can nearly reach up and touch them – animals, plants, faces, visions that don’t need drugs – surrounded by blue sky. The touch of life in people completes Mira’s affinity with expressionism. Nature, and nature of humanity – it is, she says, Art.

The painting Lighthouse was created with 3 types of gel, layers of acrylic, a pallet knife and brush. The large painting, Grace, has images within to make an overall consistent work with defining colours to give it compositional coherence and interest.

Grace has images within it

Grace expression in the motion

A large number of artists are represented in the gallery with a diversity of styles and materials.

Visit Art Lounge at 32 Devonport Rd, Tauranga

Web: for contact details.


Lee Switzer: Words and photography by Lee Switzer. Lee is a regular contributor to ARTbop – photo essays, articles and poetry. Lee has suggested “Chance Encounters” could develop into a series of short stories, so ARTbop will wait and see! Lee is multi-talented producing sought-after images of local artists and exhibitions. He has been an archival photographer around Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty for some years – how to see this body of Lee’s work are below. ARTbop also has a “back catalogue” of several photoessays by Lee to publish – so keep an eye out for these. You can find examples of Lee’s previous contributions in our ARTbop archives



Paradox the Street Art Festival to June 2017 inside and outside the Gallery and in and around the streets of Tauranga.  – www:

ARTbop supports Paradox


In case you don’t know when it’s on


Art by Rosie, Studio Gallery has a multi-artist exhibition “Home from Home” Six artists of international origin who now call New Zealand home exhibit their incredible work. The exhibition runs to 206th April at G7 Goddard Centre, 21 Devonport Road, Downtown Tauranga.


Sustainable Art Challenge.

You’ve got until Wednesday 9th June 2017 to enter. Info and registration on line at This is an event where innovation and style rival WOW in the creativity of the entrants.

Take a look at the articles on ARTbop about last year’s SAChallenge.  We take a look at the setting up of the display in the Baycourt XSpace and then the exhibition of winners at Creative Bay of Plenty, Willow Street, Downtown Tauranga – innovation and style.



have a variety of programmes for readers and library users of all ages. I picked up a handful of colourful promotional info at Greerton Library – book clubs for all ages. Children 6-8years; Tween & Teen 9-14 years and the “adult” Book Club which meets on the 3rd Monday of each month at Greerton. You can find more information by calling Paula about the programmes for young people on 577 7013 and the Jenny on 543 4760 or 021 401 451 or

Greerton Library is a new library located in the heart of the Greerton Village. Greerton Village is known for its antique and recycle stores apart from its wonderful village ambiance – watch out Ponsonby! Cafes and bakeries where you can sit and review your reading list or your op shop or retro purchases. Parking available and clean public toilets in the carpark and the library building. Watch the pedestrians on the roundabouts and don’t forget Greerton has its own programme of festivals and street projects organised by their very own mainstreet co-ordinator.

Check out the Te Puna Correspondent, Beth Bowden’s article on the opening of the Greerton Library – wonderful images of the building and the associated pou and art work.


Auckland Writers Festival 16-21 May 2017 Aotea Centre – Love Story – Six Days of Good Times and Great Ideas with the World’s best Writers and Thinkers


The play is about a woman, Gloria, aged 97 who hasn’t long to live. Her son Craig is pushing her to ‘retireville’ but she wants die in her own home. It is 2021 and on a whim she buys an extraordinary designer handbag. This purchase sets off a series of unusual events which transforms Gloria’s remaining days and enables her to send a message to the future.

“It’s imperative to have a good handbag when you are on the way out.”

Award winning actor, Helen Moulder has been working in the theatre for over 40 years in the UK, New Zealand and Australia. Helen plays six different characters in the play, Gloria’s son Craig, her granddaughter, a gardener, a young teacher and the handbag portrayed as a charming and glamorous Italian woman called Bellissima. Keeping up with NZ said “Helen Moulder as Gloria is a marvel…six characters, expert storytelling, opera singing and magic tricks, all performed by a cast of one”.

The play is presented by Baycourt Community & Arts Centre but will be performed at 16 Ave Theatre on 16th Avenue. Tickets can be purchased at or at the Baycourt Box Office and there will be door sales at 16th Ave Theatre on the night.

For more information, contact:

Wednesday 24 May 7.30pm

16th Avenue Theatre

Adults $25, Seniors $22, FOB members $20

ZOETICA – life – passion – bravery 30 August to 02 September 2017 Tarnished Frocks & Divas in association with Carrus W: F: Tarnished Frocks and Divas

Maori Language Week 11 -17 September 2017

Mercury Bay Music Festival

Mercury Bay Music Festival

NZ Poetry Conference and Festival, 10 -12 November 2017 Auckland, AUT University



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