Hanging around – Tauranga Art Exhibitions


The Independent artists winter exhibition Tauranga’s annual by invitation art exhibition held in the Baycourt X Space is one of the several exhibitions of art around the town in August and September.

There’s all sorts of work on display; precisely executed environmental New Zealand; several turquoise and spray; a finely executed work by Nick Eggleston; Barbara Lewis’ subtlety and haze in “Summer Again Waihi Beach”. I love Kerry Grant’s intense colour in “Daybreak at Matakana” and Susan Dent’s “Karangahake” which captures the depth of one of my favourite rock, water and shadow places. Bonnie Hill’s two images contain the essence of the backblocks New Zealand of my childhood.  But it’s the three works put in on behalf of Lisa Wharewhaka that I want to take home. The first one I see is nestled among very disparate works. It’s style is graphic and it’s a combination of image and words – a Converse boot – street style and comment. The same graphic style has created Man & Car – darker, murkier colours. Then almost propped up as an afterthought – a large, blindingly coloured abstract.

Exhibition organiser Roy Townhill puts me in touch with artist Lisa Wharewhaka aka Lulu.

Lisa didn’t do art at school but she’s done one or two arts courses including graphics at Polytech. She tells me she does lots of creative things and over the years has been commissioned to create images and paintings. “She loves watching something come alive with shading and adding and depth and light.” As a student she participated in a group exhibition at the old Harrison’s Gallery where her work sold with speed.

At the end of our conversation her friend Sandi tells me – Lisa’s very modest about her talent and ability. She’s a talented creative, painter and sketcher. She’s precise and a perfectionist.

Is Lisa painting at present? – yes but she’s also just started a high-end repurposing and redecorating project with a close friend. A facebook page will promote this venture. Lisa can be contacted through her personal facebook page.
THE MILES ART AWARDS 2014 I expected to “blown away” by the works in this exhibition but after my initial walk around I feel flat, deflated and disappointed by the “sameness” of much of what I see. No doubt these are a variety of beautifully executed works by artists whose work I am familiar with but nothing I see evokes a mental “wow”.

I like Sarina Smith’s “Fields of Green” which reminds me of my former home. Because of my attendance and knowledge of the subject, the photographic portrait from the Te Ranga commemoration, I’m emotionally stirred again. I don’t make a choice in the “public’s choice” competion. Ironically going down the stairs there’s a 1982 watercolour by Venetta Miles, “View of the City of Tauranga” – I stand on the landing for quite a long time trying to identify the buildings.

If I was a visitor to Tauranga or a new visitor to the Tauranga Art Gallery the exhibition would give me an excellent overview of some of the artists of the Bay of Plenty and so the competition fulfills an important role as an exhibition and competition.

I’m told that the art exhibited in the Gallery has been selected from a wider entrants’ pool. I’d be interested in having a look at all the exhibits and I wonder whether the works not selected for the shortlist in future could create a contemporaneous exhibition at the Baycourt X Space.

Rosemary Balu


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