WAI ORA ki TONGA/WATER LIFE in the SOUTH is a Mahara Gallery art project linked with Paekakariki, Kapiti, Paraparaumu and St Patrick’s schools. It has resulted in the current exhibition, which features 140 of the children’s artworks, a short film, and a book which is to be released at the gallery Friday, 17th October at 4.00pm.
This is the third year the gallery has worked with local schools to deliver a creative project related to the environment, in partnership with Nga Manu Nature Reserve. The projects have been made possible by the generous support of the Philipp Family Foundation.
Wai Ora ki Tonga began with morning workshops and fun at Nga Manu Nature Reserve. Children (aged eight to ten) observed birds, insects and fish, and learnt how to test water quality. In the afternoon they looked at gallery exhibitions and listened to poetry, “using their observation and listening skills in different ways.”
Then it was back to the classroom to make their own art and write poetry under the guidance of artist, Michelle Backhouse, poet Lindsay Rabbitt and musicians, Ali Richards and Nigel Patterson of The Beatroots. Many children were filmed reading their poems by Dean Hapeta aka Te Kupu, rapper, musician and digital film-maker. This film will be showing throughout the exhibition.
Twenty artworks and poems were given awards which will be reproduced in a new book.“All the work conveys a sense of the inventive, delightful and thoughtful ways of seeing the world that all children naturally have,” said gallery director, Janet Bayly.
Also featured in New SPACE is Nature Study by Wellington artist Melanie Mills, who creates sterling silver art jewellery of her own designs and paints still life in oils “to have a rest from metalworking.”
Melanie taught herself oil painting and prefers to find her own aesthetic. She describes her work as “low-tech and decorative, without narrative, deriving from natural forms.”
Her favourite artists are British and New Zealand modernists.
“I enjoy and appreciate their colourism, abstract forms, flatness and patterned surfaces, and transformation of the visual world.”
Both exhibitions run until 26 October 2014.