Doreen McNeill: a creative life lived well


Doreen McNeill’s 90th Birthday party and solo exhibition opening took place on a cooling Autumn evening at The Incubator Gallery in the Historic Village, Tauranga.  It was a happy, crowded event.

Doreen McNeill (R) in conversation with Guilie Dowrick (L)

The Incubator team (as usual) and on this occasion in conjunction with Friends of the Tauranga Art Gallery had created a wonderful “birthday party” atmosphere in the gazebos adjacent to the main entrance. The early autumn dark giving an additional sparkle and glow to the beautiful food. There was music:There was an extensive Artist’s StatementThere were speeches, a beautiful birthday cake and a genuine rendition of “Happy Birthday to You”

When the black and red curtain was pulled away from the gallery areas there was a polite rush for McNeill’s work.  The wonderful red dots appeared all over the walls.  There works priced to allow most to acquire a McNeill. While the selection of work now available for sale may have been significantly diminished on the night it’s more than worth your while to go down to The Incubator gallery to see this exhibition of McNeill’s work. 

Doreen McNeill’s style is described as “abstract”.  It’s a mix of earth and jewel colours.  Abstract? If you see the earth and it’s colours from space you realise that McNeill’s work is actually representational of the forms, patterns, fluidity and colours of the natural world.  It’s beautiful and stunning.

Ironically I don’t own a contemporary McNeill.  I own a very early “commercial” McNeill.  What one of my other artist friends would describe as  her “bread and butter range”.  It’s a print of a significant New Zealand mountain in the pale, poster colours of the 1980’s.  It leans against my hall wall.  Every time I walk past it reminds me of my childhood in this Taranaki region.   And I smile:  I have “a McNeill”.

It’s been such a privilege to observe and write about the Bay of Plenty creative world and it’s inhabitants.  It’s been an incredible privilege over the years to have met creatives like Doreen McNeill.  And yes, McNeill is another significant woman who has ripped to shreds the traditional cloak of invisibility I intend to be at McNeill’s 100th Birthday exhibition!

A staunch supporter of local creativity – McNeill is here too but in the background!

I’m including here links to two wonderful videoed conversations with Doreen McNeill which show her work and her creative personality. The first from 2015 is part of the Graeme Stevenson series Colour in Your Life.

And 2013, Beyond Boundaries: A meeting with Doreen McNeill by Jimi Colzato

Doreen has a website and a facebook page:

XCBITION Doreen McNeill’s latest exhibition at the Incubator Tauranga from 24th of April to the 15th of May 2019.

Note: Guilielma Dowrick and David Dowrick represent the generosity and determination of the pre-gallery Tauranga community to develop and support a gallery and creativity in the district.

Tauranga arts patron and donor, Mrs David Dowrick

Rosemary Balu.           Rosemary Balu is the founding and current Managing Editor of ARTbop. 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.



ARTbop alternative


                The Corner Shop NZ


We have a conversation with artisan, bespoke silver jeweller Barb Hudson of BarisaA visit to Morrinsville A day out at the Cambridge Autumn Festival and the Maadi Cup street paradeDoing the Lions Te Puna Quarry Autumn Festival with artist and creative Nicci Baxter

And my Sunday down on the Strand at the Jazz Festival and afternoon tea at the ever-consistent and yummy The Dry Dock!The Anzac Day Hikoi at Te PunaAnd, yes I’ve got it: Sharon’s recipe for her famous in Whakamarama chocolate and caramel slice. Watch out for another episode of an Artist’s gotta eat! or maybe Kupu & Word

Te Reo Maori and ….cake!

ARTbop promotes or we think you should check this out:

While you’re down at the McNeill exhibition in The Incubator Art Space take a walk around the lane behind the buildings opposite.  This space is being opened up and enlivened.   Here’s one of the first murals Kotahitanga with its creators Arohanoa and Pablo and their first international visitors!And of course their photographer!

The Carlton Gallery at The Arts Junction has a  “A Burst of Colour”.  It’s a solo exhibition by Karangahake Gorge artist Jacquie Ellis until Sunday 8th May.  Jacquie is particularly noted for her realistic depictions of nature in her breathtaking landscapes and seascapes, and as a visual artist of light and colour.

The Atrium Gallery at the Black Sheep Whakamarama has its third exhibition Anything Goes until the 25th May, Wednesday to Sunday 11am to 5pm

XCBITION Doreen McNeill’s latest exhibition at the Incubator Tauranga from 24th of April to the 15th of May 2019.

Within the Historic Village you’ll find a number of boutique galleries; the wonderful The Whipped Baker eatery and several homewares and recycled and new clothing boutiques.  The Village is closed Mondays (except for cruise ship visit days).

The Incubator Gallery just one of several art spaces within the Historic Village

The Artery arts learning space – love the colour!

Toymakers to the nation: The Men’s Shed has its workshop and retail outlet in the Village.

The Joy Gypsy is open Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 3pm. The boutique is always closed on Mondays.   Helen is also a wedding planner.

Rachel of The Velvet Coat Hanger has wonderful recycled clothing and accessories.   It’s all beautifully presented and reasonably priced.  


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