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Artist Interviews


These video interviews provide insight into some of Tauranga Art Gallery artists and their works.

JK Russ

Based in Las Vegas since 2010, Russ has developed large-scale collage installations where visitors contribute to the completed work. Represented by PAULNACHE in New Zealand, her collage work has been shown at the Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt, the Sarjeant Gallery in Whanganui, the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, NV, the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art in Las Vegas, NV and the Torrance Art Museum in California.

Hear Tauranga Art Gallery interview JK Russ, where she talks about her artistic process and shows us around her studio.

View Video: Interview with JK RUSS

Helen MacDuff
Waitawheta, 2020
Mixed media, oil painting

Waitawheta addresses issues around the misuse of public land - in particular, the Karangahake Gorge between Waihi and Paeroa, a well-visited tourist attraction also known as “the Windows Walk”. The area is rich in history and gold - the Ohinemuri and Waitawheta rivers suffering heavily due to the extensive mining that began in 1875. The rivers were used as ‘sludgeways’, with cyanide and arsenic regularly washed down through these waters. Whilst the environment has healed over time, the threat of mining is ever present. 

MacDuff pays homage to Mere Kuru Te Kati (painted by Lindauer) through the inclusion of her moko kauae at the base of the painting; a woman who relentlessly opposed the onslaught of colonisation and gold mining. The Kawakawa plant is renowned for its medicinal purposes - a simplistic challenge to our leaders to protect this national treasure and allow our lands to heal. 

View Video: Interview with Helen MacDuff

Israel Randell
Wahi Ngaro,
Electroluminescent wire 2019

“...Te Korekore (the void) is the realm between non- being and being: that is, the realm of potential being... here the seed-stuff of the universe and all created things gestate. It is the womb from which all things proceed...”
-Maori Marsden

Wahi Ngaro, the ‘hidden realm’, examines this notion of the void, an in-between space - or the places from which all things originate from. The triangle, a primordial shape, refers to the wharetangata (womb), symbolic of the space from which we come from and return to. Both physically and subliminally, this installation delves into our understanding of, and interaction with Te Korekore.

This artist has created a surprising, edgy work that grounds us deep down into the bones of this land. I enjoy the subtle sound element of the work which I read as screaming into the void. Entering an installation piece into an open competition is a bold move, the striking visual impact of Te Korekore and its strong conceptual foundations rooted in mātauranga Māori has resulted in a very moving experience for the audience.
Miles Art Award 2020 Judge Sarah Hudson

View Video: Interview with Israel Randell

Todd Couper

Born in Wairoa 1974 Todd is of Rongomaiwahine, Ngati Kahungunu descent. His passion for art was ignited from a very early age having been influenced by his Dads drawings, his Nans paintings and the carvings and kowhaiwhai patterns that adorned some of the Wharenui in Wairoa.

Todd has been a full time artist for 23 years mastering in the art of wood carving with over 400 works being held in private collections throughout the world. “ My work in its form and meaning honours the ancient art of Whakairo (traditional Maori carving) with honesty, integrity and precision, capturing the essence of traditional values and beliefs that are bound with personal experiences and influences thus creating a more contemporary aesthetic.”

View Video: Interview with Todd Couper

Te Marunui Hotene
Poutama, 2019

Healing through art is an on-going process, self-conscious efforts to re-connect to one’s past to better understand their present, play out in a series of unique and often revealing episodes of self re-creation. English academic Robbie Shilliam calls this process de-colonial science, that is the shedding of blackness towards taha Māori; challenging Cartesian dualistic tendencies.

Here, painting is used as a tool both for communication and for healing. The sporadic and expressive nature of Te Marunui Hotene's paintings are influenced by the life and works of Jean Michel Basquiat. This allows for rapid mediation and documentation of points of interests in a journey of healing: textual portions of geneology, feelings of blackness, hopeful ambitions, but also, the mundane, day to day activities and peoples names. Text then intertwines often with kowhaiwhai and pattern, layered on occasion by imagery of taniwha, in a colourfully vibrant visual negotiation for space.

Poutama, refers to the tukutuku pattern of the same name. It means the ever ascending pursuit of knowledge, marking a significant point in personal development.

Ever Ascension,
Poutama e!

View Video: Interview with Te Marunui Hotene

Andrew Beck: Soft Filter

Influences as disparate as sci-fi movie The Matrix, the work of Surrealist artist Jean Cocteau and the musical genre Vaporwave are buried deep in the work of Te Whanganui-a-Tara-based artist Andrew Beck. Renowned for his hard-edged abstractions, his work, like his interests, are an amalgamation of diverse media. Beck combines photography, painting, sculpture and installation in a manner that divorces each element from its original context, encouraging slippage from one form to the next. 

In this video Andrew takes us around his studio and talks about his new atrium commission for Tauranga Art Gallery.

View the video interview with Andrew Beck here.

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