A world of creativity

A world of creativity

Thirty proud Maunga Kura Toi students celebrated their artwork last week with the launch of Nga Kete Toi – Te Wananga o Aotearoa art exhibition. The studio is now showcasing a whole world of Maori art waiting to be discovered, and the student artists are eagerly waiting to take everyone on a culture-filled journey. Beautiful weavings, carvings, and paintings are on display, each with a unique story behind it.

Oriwa Morgan-Ward, WaiwheroPainter Oriwa Morgan-Ward is one of the students with works on display, and is thrilled with the exhibition. “Maori art is not saturated, this is a great opportunity to bring it to the rest of the world,” she says. “It’s a way of expressing ourselves, to the public that haven’t experienced life in the world of Maori.”

Oriwa’s painting, Waiwhero, is one of many on display exploring concepts in colour, form, composition and light, to tell a beautiful story of womanhood. Each artist shows immense support and respect for one another, not shying away from showing off each other’s art. While Oriwa is speaking of the process behind creating a painting, she takes a moment to credit the patience carvers have when it comes to making mistakes, “at least we can paint over it! It’s a little harder when you’re a carver.”

Pru Robbie, RarangaPru Robbie, a level six student, has a striking Raranga (weaving) on display that wasn’t an easy task! “It takes a lot of practice to get it right, if the cuts are too deep or too shallow the whole things ruined.” Her approach was to have a simple pattern that was achievable so she could focus on neatness, “then I’ll do something amazing another day”. “I’ve named it Whakawhiti Korero, which means to make back and forth conversation. I have a lot of international people come through my house, then they’ll see this hanging on the wall and ask what it’s about. Well then I can explain Maori tradition, Maori art and create conversations about it.” This flax isn’t just any old flax from the bottom of the garden either – Pru had to travel a considerable distance from her home to find that perfect strong fibre content, and that was the easy part! It then took her two months to put her weaving together. “It’s about doing the practice, doing the hours.”

Up and coming artist, James Wall, whakairo (carving) that was 14 weeks in the making. He started with a piece of wood and has slowly chiseled away, creating a stunning end piece. Each carving presented in the exhibition represents a waka and two gods, depending on the artist’s iwi. Maori art is cleverly full of hidden meanings and spiritual beliefs that are left to be discovered by everyone else. Each line and mark carved into the wood means something. “I wanted to do this because I wanted to get back into my culture,” says James. However, he’s not shy to admit there were a few times things weren’t going to plan, causing a little tension between him and the slab of wood. Seeing the outcome though makes it all worth it. “I think Maori art should be shown to the world, these artworks are something I hold dear.” James is already planning for the future – “I want to try do a bit of contemporary art and maybe even a teaching paper.”

From everything on display in this exhibition, you can see there’s a lot of heart and emotion involved in the art. The spirit behind it, the feelings they evoke, the history… these artworks represent the artists’ family, heritage and who they are. For these students, who they are is all about where they’re from, and their art allows them to express and honour their ancestral knowledge.

The exhibition is open until the 1st October 2015 between 9am – 3pm Monday to Thursday at 32 Ngata Street, Palmerston North. Go check it out and discover a world of Maori culture.


Little Space, Big Heart

The White Room Co has recently popped up in the arts scene and already it’s making a big splash.

When the team at Jumprope, a marketing and design agency, were first presented with the idea of becoming part of the Palmerston North City Council’s Placemaking Initiative, they were excited to bring some new ideas to the table.

Brendan and GregInspired by the already successful spaces that had been established around the city, they wanted to come up with a concept that would transform the corner of Fitzherbert Avenue and College Street into a new and engaging spot that people from all around Manawatu would be proud of.

Utilising unused space in the former Volume 1 book store, what started as a pop-up gallery concept soon became a much bigger collaborative project between the team at Jumprope, Greg Wilson Photography and the building’s owners Michelle and John van Lienen.

With the view to developing a space that not only enhanced the street appeal but was functional and gave back to the community, The White Room Co was created to give emerging artists a platform from which to exhibit and sell their work in a market that they might not otherwise have access to.

The White Room Co has also developed resources and networks that allow each new artist to host an opening event and run an exhibition

As existing galleries around the region have greater barriers to entry, The White Room Co wanted to provide artists with a space that they could help to build, share and be proud of.

The concept of ‘collaboration’ was the key factor in forming The White Room Co and was at the forefront of the minds of the team as they began to build a place that allowed emerging talent to grow. The artists wanting to exhibit have embraced this idea and their friends, families and the local community have all welcomed the chance to pitch in too by helping with everything from hanging exhibits and organising opening events to gallery maintenance and, of course, spreading the word.

Looking inDesigned specifically to be a blank canvas, the group agreed to donate the capital needed and the building underwent renovations to shape it into an industrial-style, light-filled environment suitable for any kind of art.

More than just offering a nice space, The White Room Co has also developed resources and networks that allow each new artist to host an opening event and run an exhibition for between two and four weeks, with added support from the team to help make sure that their time in the gallery is worthwhile and fulfilling.

The White Room Co charges a small commission to cover the costs of running the gallery and invites artists of all backgrounds and disciplines to submit brief portfolios for selection and scheduling.