The Tauranga Art Gallery: Toi Tauranga jostles with The Incubator Creative Hub at the Historic Village for the number one spot on my list of what I so love about Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty.
Years ago when I disclosed I was moving “south” the negative comments about “God’s waiting room” and the closed nature of Tauranga society were repeatedly offered. Some of the comments were right: I started ARTbop at a time when the papers were full of negative statements about funding “art galleries” and the then Director of Creative Tauranga ran a consistent gauntlet of funding queries. But some of the other bits, lack of “culture” and general lack of welcome turned out to be far from true. I’ve had many years now enjoying all the things supposedly lacking around the town. And one of the most pleasing things is seeing how the Tauranga Art Gallery: Toi Tauranga has blossomed and taken its rightful place in the wider community.
I’ve had some wonderful experiences at gallery events. Some funny like being mistaken for Fred Graham’s wife or moving when invited to stand with the tangata whenua at an exhibition opening. I’ve enjoyed food, conversation and company and met many of the talented gallery staff members, exhibitors and supporters of the gallery. I’ve been delighted by the way the gallery has drawn in a widening demographic of our community particularly the bus loads of children. A far cry, a world away from, the nervous gallery attendant in that old Auckland who walked behind me as I carried my toddler daughter round her first visit to the Auckland Art Gallery – “you won’t let her touch anything, you won’t let her touch anything, you won’t let her touch anything…”
But most of all I love the way the Gallery itself has seemed to relax as it’s grown up and become accepted as an important and integral part of the town. There’s only been one exhibition I have deliberately avoided – I thought it would be too confronting for me. No I haven’t like all the stuff I’ve seen, that’s not the point. How would I ever know what I like if I don’t look at stuff I don’t like. A gallery is not a museum so I’ve seen art work and creativity using materials and methods and styles that weren’t part of my established art thought knowledge bank. One of the aims of ARTbop was and is to write about what we saw in language that was more accessible than the often academic exhibition and catalogue statement speak.
I was in the Gallery last Sunday afternoon I think I went to see Mr G well-known “street artist”. Ironically it’s Graeme Hoete’s major iwi political statement on Mauao that I last saw as part of my te reo Maori course visit. Iwi of Tauranga Moana stand opposing Hauraki whom they classify as contemporary interlopers.
This insightful, beautifully imaged article appeared in UNO magazine a privately owned Bay of Plenty focused paperbased periodical. UNO is a regular supporter of the Tauranga Art Gallery. UNO describes itself as “for the upper socio-economic group” but don’t let that deter you if you see it in a cafe or can access it in your local library. Like the article on Mr G above you’ll find some well written content which presents the flavours of our Bay of Plenty.
There is a short film of Mr G and his Motiti Island home loop showing in conjunction with this exhibition. Take the time to watch it. The content below is from the Tauranga Art Gallery website: