Friends of the Tauranga Art Gallery Newsletter

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May 2019 Newsletter


Hi Friends,
For those of us who were lucky enough to attend, the opening of Mega World, on Friday 29 March, was a joyous event. Some of us even got to play among the Tobys; and those Tobys seem to hang around in some very interesting places. The photograph of Ciska Vogelzang (below) captures the spirit of a night that was enjoyed by all who attended the celebration.
At the opening, Alice Hutchison, talked about “hybrid worlds.’” She also referenced the colossal amount of work and effort by Gallery staff required to complete the installations in time for the opening. This is clearly evident as you walk through familiar, yet no longer familiar rooms. They have become zones that reflect “contemporary illustration in its many forms” from picture books and comics to science fiction and animation.
Collectively, Mega World is subtitled “The Expansive Universe of Illustration.” It makes use of the five exhibition spaces in quite different and vastly imaginative ways. From gallery space to gallery space, the landscapes change as do the strange creatures, unlikely heroes and experiences we encounter.
In the Atrium, where the opening took place, is “Neon Utopia” the first major installation in a public gallery, by Hamilton-based artist Ahsin Ahsin (Ushy). This fluorescent, vibrant work, rising 7 metres around you, is a stunning creation. I feel very proud that the Project Partner, for this work, is the Friends of Tauranga Art Gallery. The plan is to organise an event, quite soon, to celebrate our sponsorship of this exhibition.
Gary Baseman, from Los Angeles, with a few of his “Imaginary Friends” was on hand to introduce us to the other characters that feature in an environment that’s playful, quirky engaging.
“Let Me Tell You A Story” transforms the small gallery space upstairs into an intriguing place. On first glance, there is something very engaging about the fantastical creatures living here. We feel as though we have encountered them before. They have inhabited the stories from childhood we know so well or the museums we once visited populated by glass cabinets containing strange exhibits. Here, we look again and see more; something much less familiar, something darker and unsettling. “Happily ever after” is replaced by a question mark. These creations are the work of Natasha Cousens, from Tauranga. This is her first solo exhibition in a public gallery. We are talking with Natasha about the possibility of a Friends gathering to chat about the worlds she has created here.
“Anti-heroes – The Art of Conscious Comic Book Artists” celebrates the art of comic books and cartoons. There is something very edgy and raw in many of the illustrations here. Here we get more than a glimpse in how these artists see and engage with the world. There is a lot to see in the upstairs space, including the Australasian premiere of Dash Shaw’s animated film “My Entire High School is Sinking into the Sea.”
Finally, there is “Time Spy”, a 3D animation by Chinese artist Sun Xun. One Friend described this as a captivating experience, especially when a hand appeared to reach out from the screen as if to grab her. I think she was planning a return visit to watch it again.
While there will be aspects of Mega World that many of us will find unsettling and challenging, my own feeling is that there is something for everyone here. You just have to go exploring with the expectation that something will reach out from the wall and grab you.

- Alex Sutherland 

Doreen McNeill
Saturday 1 June - 2pm, Tauranga Art Gallery

"Abstract art creates a space where one can feel - it provides a vocabulary about things we can't quite articulate”

– Doreen McNeill

Leading abstract painter and long-time Friends of Tauranga Art Gallery member, Doreen McNeill, describes her paintings as informal abstract, giving her more freedom and a wider permissiveness than a strict abstract label would allow.  “I relish the journey of exploration that this approach gives me” she says of her contemporary approach to expressing her view of the environment.
Those who are lucky enough to have Doreen McNeill paintings in their collections say they never tire of them, not only due to the way the paint has been so skilfully applied, but because they keep discovering new exciting visual nuances long after the painting has been hung. 
Doreen's most recent works are on exhibition at The Incubator. Doreen will celebrate the opening of this exhibition and her 90th birthday on Wednesday 24 April at 5.30pm. All Friends members are welcome to attend.

At Art in the Afternoon, Doreen will lead a demonstration and discussion of her paintings. Come along on Saturday 1 June at 2pm. Please RSVP by Wednesday 29 May.

 - Abstract paintings by Doreen McNeill
Artist Talk: Dash Shaw
Saturday 18 May - 10.30am

Dash Shaw is a US comic book writer/artist and animator, whose most recent film animation, My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea is currently showing at the Gallery. Don’t miss the opportunity to hear from an international artist at the fore of comics and animation. Please register to help manage numbers.

Tauranga Zinefest
Saturday 25 May - 10am to 3pm

Come along to Zinefest 2019 and find out what a zine is, talk to the experts, check out the many zine stalls and maybe make your own zine to take home!

Pink Boy by Ahsin Ahsin

Don't miss this opportunity to take home your own a piece of Neon Utopia with this limited edition print 'Pink Boy' by Ashin Ashin. A3 Giclee print on textured cotton rag 310gsm. Limited edition of 100. Purchase online today!

Gary Baseman - Imaginary Friends
- Review by Lee Switzer 

Inside his Imaginary Friends exhibition, Gary Baseman, gave the audience an effective, interactive presentation. He continually reiterated his desire to be all inclusive with everyone he sees and meets. To this end after briefly talking about his travelling companion, Toby, he handed a Toby to the gathered visitors. Toby was passed around, hand-to-hand providing for audience participation and allowed a more tactile sense of the character. This was a great hit with children and adults as evidenced by the many selfies in process during Gary’s walk around the exhibition.

Gary energetically moved from one part of the exhibition to another, emphasising that although various pieces might seem to be ‘dolls’ or toys or flippant characters, the real message was to combine the contextual nature of playfulness while generating a realisation of a deeper cognitive perception within our personal world view.

One question from the audience: What is the origin of the name Toby?
Gary explained that as achild he had a baby sitter for several years. She did not blame him, scold him or ever make him feel bad about anything. A joy, in other words. Her name is Toby.

 Molly Morpeth Canaday and Drawing Trip
- Review by Paula Harrison 

An enjoyable day was had by all at the Molly Morpeth Canaday Painting and Drawing trip to Whakatane in March.

The day started with pick up from the Tauranga Art gallery and onward to the ‘Blueberry Corner’ for morning tea, where we had the delight of choosing coffee, delicious cakes and buying fresh berries. 

Walking into the gallery area we were struck with the diverse works in this exhibition with artists engaging with the representational tradition, non-objective abstraction in geometry and gesture.  There was a piece of art for everyone, some which challenged, and providing conversation for all. We were grateful to Gaye Carrothers, who kindly navigated us around the gallery,  explaining the reasons why each work had been chosen by the judges. These explanations always provide engagement and information which often puts a different perspective on the artworks.

Guest judge, Dr Christopher McAuliffe, remarked that the the works reminded him of the French novelist and philosopher Georges Bataille’s theory of the Nonknowledge – seeking out new thresholds of thought, even if the path towards them is unclear.  Bataille wrote, “that makes the mind uneasy, induces an imbalance”. Friends members were put to task with pen and paper to judge the best artwork with similar categories of the Molly Morpeth judgers.  We discussed our findings, listening to other people’s perspective of why they had chosen the artwork.  The artworks challenged many of us but it was fascinating to see the diversity of opinions.   As stated by Dr Christopher McAuliffe, the works exhibited were unsettling, some raw, unrefined, and even aggressive.  Others were sparse, eerie, disturbing in their stillness, delicacy and intimacy, - many of us would agree.
The major award winner wen to John Brown, ‘The Battle for Tuber’,  runner-up award Teresa HR Lane. ‘Raising of the Brazen Snake 1 & 2’  Craig’s Investment youth award Danae Ripley ‘Nice Folk and pleasantries’, Highly Commended award Lea-Anne Sheather, ‘Seeking Connections’ and a further 8 merit awards. 

On our way back to Tauranga we stopped at John Beech’s property for afternoon tea, with a glass of bubbles in hand overlooking the stunning Bay of Plenty. An added bonus was that John took us to his gallery - ‘Holloway House Antique Print Gallery’, which was amazing and a must to do.  John is open for viewing and selling of his antique print work.  If you would like to view email John -

A special thanks to Gavin Steer for driving the bus, John Beech and Craig Douglas for their hospitality and to all the 11 friends that came on the trip. 

 Art in the Afternoon - Mandy Williams
- Review by John Beech 

- Mandy Williams

Working as a graphic designer and a store window designer have contributed to her practise, local artist Mandy Williams told Friends of Tauranga Art Gallery, at Art in the Afternoon, in March.
Mandy has only been practicing her chosen career as an artist for 11 years but explained how her two previous professions have helped her immensely in that they both provided skills that have complimented her art practice. Mandy is known for her distinctive cards, calendars, notepads and coffee mugs but when she first started painting it was on a commission basis for friends and family.
Mandy's first exhibition was when she was 40 years-old and she recently attended the Atelier Masters Painting Course.  Mandy aims to create works that represent something personal and special to the subject. In her presentation, she talked about her love of interior design and creating art, and how "indulging in these together" makes her happy, along with "sharing the stories and painting real people".
With her recent studies, we look forward to seeing how much more there is to come from this dynamic artist.
Friends Committee contacts: 
General email

Chair: Bridget Cummins: 027 4935782
Treasurer: Emma Wright
Secretary: John Beech
Membership Secretary: Yvonne Lambert: 021 499 318  
Art in Afternoon/ Art Away Trips: Paula Harrison: 021 2744116    
Art at Home:/ Art in Studios: Via Friends email
Art at the Movies: Alex Sutherland: 027 252 2601
Newsletter: Marama Mateparae: 027 222 0020 
We hope to see you all soon at the Gallery or at one of our events!