Twofa: Combined talent at Macandmor and John Baxter at The Incubator


Thursday 4th July 2019, was a typical New Zealand late Winter-early Spring day. Pissing down with rain (coming from the North East) and coldly raw.   About lunchtime I decided I wasn’t going to run the SH2-Tauranga West Road gauntlet and wouldn’t go up to the Macandmor exhibition opening – I’d go on Friday. Believe it or not this Friday I found a carpark right out in front of the fabulous Books a Plenty and paid less than $2. for a relatively lengthy parking time.

Macandmor the gallery of a collective is the quintessential private dealer gallery. Beautiful work, well hung and charming “staff” – the artists themselves.  Located within the Goddard Centre, a traditional shopping arcade in Downtown Tauranga, it would not have been expected to succeed and thrive. Off the “main drag” and open for less than business hours, Macandmor has done more than well. Particularly in view of the ongoing building and roading disruption and lack of parking in the downtown area.  

In great part the gallery’s success is due to the driving force of the Clode Family but it would be unwise to discount the ongoing dedicated support of members of the local creative community who you can meet when taking their turn to front the enterprise.   It’s a treat to be able to discuss the works on show with someone who created them. It’s wonderful to eavesdrop on a local creative interacting with out of district visitors and international tourists – you again see the economic value of art and galleries.

I’ve been down in the Bay of Plenty long enough now to be able to recognize (and enjoy) the work of a spectrum of visual artists. This current exhibition of abstract work is no exception. There are the “real earth” abstracts of art-doyenne Doreen McNeill. If you see the earth and landscapes from space you realize that McNeill’s work is not entirely abstract. It’s representative of the colours, patterns and shapes of our world.   Stella Clark and Constanza Briceno have a selection of their colour and shape images.

An earlier Stella Clark during an interview with artist and arts journalist Birgitt Shannon. Photo Birgitt Shannon

Stella also has some of her art-patterned clothing on view and for sale.  

Kristian Lomath has examples of his identifiable patterns and colours. I interrupt a conversation he is having and suggest an Auckland gallery Kristian should contact – I think inner-Auckland would appreciate the Lomath touch.  

Kristian Lomath artist

I particularly like the work of Janice Giles who is also part of this exhibition. There’s a small intaglio of green circles (rocks) my greedy eyes dwell on.  The exhibition also includes the vibrant abstract work of Kirsty Black whose zine says “…I am…intrigued by the effect on the viewer and like abstract art for its ability to elicit an emotional response, allowing interpretations from their own life experiences….”!    

When I’m over interrupting Kristian’s conversation I see three works from Omokoroa-based artist Jackie Knotts.   Personal rave …. I “love” her mid-century modern flavoured prints. I think it’s a good thing I have budgetary restrictions otherwise her work and that of some of the other talented members of our creative community would cover every inch of my little house.

As you can see I’m an arts aficionado – I don’t pretend to be an “educated arts eye”. I’m always amazed at how talented the local creative community is.     There is a wonderful little surprise with this exhibition: the artist statements are presented as zines.   So cool! Just love it.  As I’m leaving I run into one of the exhibitors, Janice Giles – another Tauranga multi-talent.  

An earlier Janice Giles (right) in conversation with artist and arts journalist Birgitt Shannon. Photo Birgitt Shannon

Macandmor: Do you see what I see? Six top abstract artists show the way they see. To the 25th July 2019. Macandmor Art Gallery, Goddards Centre, Devonport Road, Tauranga   

Finally, longtime creative, musician, poet, songwriter, fabricator and painter John Baxter has a solo exhibition at The Incubator. He’s timed it to be in great company with the combined exhibition at Macandmor of some of his more established colleagues: Doreen McNeill, Kristian Lomath, Janice Giles, Stella Clarke, Constanza Brisceno and Kirsty Black

John Baxter poet in public performance mode with his words lit by local author and publisher Jenny Argante

I’ve had a bit to do with the talented Baxter family since I started nosing my way around The Incubator Creative Hub. Yes, I’ve had numerous cups of tea at their home and shared food, laughs and conversation with them.

Nicci Baxter is an emergent photographer and painter and in conjunction with Debbie Allen is one of the current forces of The Tree House Gallery on Cameron Road, Tauranga, South. Daughter Jade has inherited the diverse talents of her parents: style and an ability to paint.

The multi-talented and multi-tasking artist Nicci Baxter at a recent Incubator opening

Father John is one of those persistent rockers – you’ll find various iterations of music man Johnny B on ARTbop’s  archives and facebook pages.

Younger versions of Baxter and Dhaivat Mehta at QVis planning altercation

I’ve watched as this talented fabricator has produced detailed sets and props for a variety of Incubator initiatives. I remember the very realistic tree trunk made in the small annex of the Baxter home for a local festival detailed down to the addition of lichen.

John Baxter and a Tauranga Arts Festival “tree”

I often saw John’s smallish precisely painted works around the home. Time and circumstance weren’t always conducive to expanding this aspect of his talent but now Baxter, J is opening at The Incubator. It’s probably happening right now. I know how important this is but fear of another bad cold has me calling in to “the Inc” Friday mid-afternoon.

“On a promise” that I will not publish until Saturday, Incubator stalwart, Wendy Pedersen, takes me behind the big red and black striped curtain. (I don’t move the smaller curtain; I’ll be back to have a look at that). I’m so pleased by what I see. Baxter has presented a large body of work – different sizes, different but associated styles.

I have always loved the intense and detailed work Baxter produces often thinking that it owes something to traditional Australian Aboriginal techniques. That’s present in one or two of the exhibition works but I notice it’s almost as though John has had the time to let go. Some of the works are lighter, freer, less graphic.  

Is it buyable? Yes. If you were buying because it’s good you’d find it here. You’d also find patterns and images and colour tones you’d enjoy looking at for a very long time.

As I’m leaving the organised artist arrives with the provisions for the early-evening opening.

John Baxter:   Circles and Signs at The Incubator Creative Hub until 30th July.

John Baxter Art & Design, facebook: John Baxter Artist, email:   Phone: 027 765 3778

You’ll also enjoy the Rosalie Liddle-Crawford profile of John Baxter in this week’s edition of Life & Style in your Weekend Sun news paper. Lots of background information all presented in Liddle-Crawford’s readable style.   Rosalie attends and shares information about a variety of events and exhibitions around Tauranga in Life & Style and the main text version of the Sun and online.

Check out John in his facilitator role on ARTbop alternative ALTercation in conversation with reviewer and author and ARTbop Literary Editor and Contributor Marcus Hobson  

You can find more of the work of artist Birgitt Shannon whose photographs appear above at


While you’re downtown make sure you check out The Tauranga Art Gallery on the Corner of Willow and Wharf Street. And, The Art Lounge just over the road on Willow Street.

I didn’t have parking time “to shop” downtown today but I did have a five-minute cruise around Books a Plenty – total retail therapy. Beautifully presented independent book shop.   I love the witticisms they write on their blackboard….can I imagine a day without reading? ….no.

And don’t forget the cafes where you can have a wonderful something to eat and drink. Last time I was “down-town” it was a cold, early weekday morning to catch the Intercity to Auckland for the first of my Busted series – had a bacon cup and hot chocolate in The Dry Dock before I left – they’re open at the crack of dawn!

Today I had a cheese and ham “toastie” (think a less buttered version of Croque Monsieur) down at The Whipped Baker in the Historic Village – it was nostalgic divine. I have to confess I also ate a berry and caramel gluten-free slice of something (it’s cold I need the calories!).  

When I was at the Historic Village I called in to see Rachel in The Velvet Coathanger – beautiful recycled clothes, shoes, accessories presented with style (and she’s so nice).   I also popped my head into The Joy Gypsy – boutique wares and a wedding and function décor source and creator. Poked my nose into the artist studios opposite The Incubator and had a chat with Kerry Funnell who I would call a couturier. Superbly styled, beautifully created garments. You’d just love very limited edition multi-fabric jackets – unique.   This is a traditional atelier. Kerry’s clothes are “lifetime garments”.  There are still some examples of her recent collaboration with artist Lynette Fisher.

If you’re looking for somewhere to come for an interesting weekend think about Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty.   Make sure you check out the market and fair dates – there are now several you’ll not want to miss. And Murray Clode of Macandmor and arts journalist Pete Morris have created an arts trail handout for the district.  

If you’re motel staying, self-catering or plan to take your host’s a foodie gift, you’ll definitely want to head on to the Saturday morning Farmer’s Market at the Tauranga Primary School (opposite the Sallies on Cameron Road) to stock up.  I wouldn’t want to visit here without having fish and chips at the Dive Crescent fish shop; afternoon tea or a drink at Clarence Boutique Hotel’s Iki Bar in the Old Post Office Building (staff were so cool on the day we were there), A visit to the Historic Village (preferably when one of the markets is on).  On Sunday morning wet or fine I’d be over in “the Mount Main Street” for brunch.

Gate Pa – Pukehinahina commemorative pou

If you want to see some of the cultural history of Tauranga there is a walk through the site of the Pukehinahina-Gate Pa Battle site next door to St George’s Church. It’s right beside Mitre 10 and the Gate Pa complex, there are informational stands as you walk through. Parking on the road adjacent to the entrance.  

There are the post-colonial sites – The Elms and the associated Mission Cemetery on the historic Otamataha Pa site and the Brain Watkins Homestead easily locatable on the corner of Cameron and Elizabeth Streets. There are fees to visit The Elms House and Garden and the Brain Watkins Homestead. A walk around the Mission Cemetery not only gives you an insight into earlier conflicts but you’ll see how much of the original foreshore has been reclaimed and developed.

There’s a walk and bike trail along the foreshore of the inner harbour – it’s all signposted.    If you do decide to drive over to Mount Maunganui (and you’re feeling energetic) from the Pilot Bay side of Mauao you can walk up this geographic sentinel on a path made with the history of its people.    Look out for Mr G painted water tank – a contemporary political statement. Take a jacket as it can be windy up here.  Do the walk and then have brunch!  

Note: For an idea of what you’ll find along State Highway 2 from Paeroa to Tauranga check out….

Coming Up: spoilt for choice around the Bay

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.


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Check out the beautiful artisan craftsmanship of Barb Hudson of Barisa at Atrium Gallery, Black Sheep, Whakamarama.

Always something yummy to eat at The Dry Dock, Downtown Tauranga (diagonally opposite the Tauranga Art Gallery)




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