It’s easy for your correspondent to stay in her comfort zone when an art exhibition is just down Te Puna Road.
The Te Puna School Art Auction came off over the weekend of 16 September, raising a substantial sum for the school, but also giving time and space to work that might otherwise gain attention only from family and friends. The respectful care that went into the overall presentation of a wide variety of works, and the stimulating effect of seeing how artworks form – and inform – each other, deserves a tribute to the organisers as well as the creators of the works. The TPC is perhaps over-fond of banging on about the importance of the effort that goes into producing and showing off local arts and culture, but even a non-local – one of whom turned up at the Te Puna Hall expecting the find the exhibition there – would have been impressed at the way the school hall had been transformed, with some internal landscaping (courtesy of a local garden centre) into a flowing, surprising and delightful set of display spaces.
This was, to say the least, an eclectic mix. Half the room was dedicated to pupils’ work, with short but informative interpretation panels explaining how each class had been brought to examine, and then react to, themes as diverse as Monet’s water lilies, the creation of the universe, and local landscape.
Media was likewise mixed. For instance, collage, as well as paint, had been used to establish the still-life volumes and spatial relationships of bowls, bottles and fruit, a neat and immediate allusion to both Cezanne and Matisse; while the delicacy of feathers was explored by using them, in one case, to transfer the image to, literally, the page. Another delicate pastel (perhaps a more conventional medium to render the subject), might attract less notice – until you realise that the artist has illustrated what happens when feathers are ruffled.
On the adult side, those hanging the exhibition had to contend with everything from Peter Tulloch photographs to watercolours, block-mounted graphic art in slick-surfaced acrylics, and harakeke weavings. In a limited space, it was clearly something of a struggle to do full justice to these donated works, but the immediate impression, an excellent one for an auction room to convey, was that there was something here for everyone. For your correspondent, however, there was one stand-out piece which, she was delighted to be told, was the work of Donelle Shilling, the art teacher at Te Puna School. Her work, Ko Mauao te Maunga clearly references the painterly style and vigorous approach of Nigel Brown, but more than anything it conveys a sense of history and layered experience that, as all good art does, makes us look at our world with new eyes.
For those wanting a less obvious homage, her swirling landscape of Tauranga Moana by moonlight (River Series, #2) evokes a calm energy that invites your gaze to rest, like a waka, on the confluences of earth and water and light.
So – along the rivers and roads that lead to Te Puna – the alert observer can find some great local art and, even more importantly, a significant local culture that occasionally comes out to play, and invites others to play with it. To coin a phrase: Allez, Te Puna!
The Te Puna Correspondent. Your TPC is a rurally living, lifetime Tauranga resident. She has an eclectic cultural background She is a continuing participant, supporter and observer of all forms of the creative arts and commuity activities. Much travelled both nationally and internationally, the ARTbop contributions of Your TPC can be acerbic, witty and insightful. Their publication is looked forward to by an increasing readership folloiwng. Her alter ego Beth Bowden can be seen as a lead conversationalist on The ARTbopSHOW.
Your TPC can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org