Illumination: Paul Burgham
Thursday April 20 2017
by TARA SHASKEY
Splashes of light throw rainbows of colour on the white walls at a Stratford gallery.
A kaleidoscopic paua, a carefully crafted lighthouse and an incandescent green flax plant featuring natural stone and pounamu beam in the space, as part of Percy Thomson Gallery's latest exhibition.
Illumination, by glass artist Paul Burgham showcases eight contemporary lamps ranging in size from 400 millimetres to nearly one metre in height and all are said to be inspired by a love of nature.
In his earlier years Burgham worked in the building industry but when the day-to-day strains of lifting and carrying materials became too much he moved on to lead lighting and copper foil work.
"Leadlights you do for windows and copper foil is for lights," he explained.
"There's the design, then I make the polystyrene moulds and put the glass on them and sort of build it up. And then I copper foil them and solder them," he said.
"It's quite a technical thing really."
The pieces he has on display are a mixture of lights he has developed over the years and a couple of new pieces he created with the exhibition in mind.
Burgham, who also dabbled with the art of photography, said the lamps' vibrant colours usually inspired people's interest.
"Nowadays everything is so black and grey and so anything with a bit of colour, people love it."
Art Nouveau and Art Deco style and the Arts and Crafts movement had been a huge influence in his work, and Burgham credited his mum's teachings for his love of nature.
Burgham recently completed a one and a half year long commission for the design, creation and installation of seven new stained-glass windows at the Mary Phelan chapel at New Plymouth's Sacred Heart Girls' College.
He also worked on and laid 4000 mosaic tiles in two weeks for the murals featured at Eltham's public toilets.
Percy's Place Gallery Shop
Rhonda Bunyan, director of the Percy Thomson Gallery, says the opening of Percy's Place, a boutique retail art store adjoining the gallery, is not only helping grow the area as an arts and culture hub, but will also help local artists extend their reach.
"Buying a piece of art from here isn't just about gaining an item of beauty for your home, but is also about supporting local artists."
"Prospero Place now houses the gallery itself, the library, a lovely coffee shop, the i-SITE and now this wonderful shop. They all complement each other beautifully."
"Art isn't just painting, and in Taranaki we are privileged to have so many wonderful artists who produce such a wide variety of work."
Every piece of art currently in Percy's Place was handpicked by Rhonda in readiness for the opening last Thursday evening.
"I wanted some very specific pieces. I approached artists who I knew had a good range of work, or who had a particular style that would suit the shop. Being a retail store, it was important to get a range of items, both in style and pricing. It had to be more than simply paintings on walls."
"As pieces sell we will be sourcing new items, so I am continuing to approach artists and to keep my eye out for fresh talent," says Rhonda.
She says Percy Thomson trustees have been "very supportive" of this new venture, and all feedback received so far has been positive.
"People are really excited to see us open the store, and have been full of praise for the standard and range of work on offer."
With artists themselves among the team of volunteer "store sitters", shoppers have a chance to sometimes talk directly to the person who created the piece they are purchasing.
"We are asking for more volunteers to help support us by manning the shop for us, you need no experience, just a love of beautiful things and art."
Percy's Place: Located next door to the Percy Thomson Gallery, Prospero Place.
Margaret Scott: a Sense of Place
15 February 2017
by DAVID BURROUGHS
Shoe polish and food colouring were the only things Margaret Scott had to use when she first started painting in 1963.
"There was a Bernard Aris painting on the wall of our house because our family knew him as a Taranaki artist and he had come to stay with us for a while," she said.
"I just got the shoe nugget and mixed food colouring with it."
As soon as her father saw the painting, he went and bought her a set of oil paints which started her on a career that has spanned more than 50 years.
While some of the work is for sale, other pieces were borrowed back for the exhibition and Scott said it was difficult to put a number on just how many paintings she had made over the years.
"I stared off with about a hundred paintings for this exhibition and Rhonda Bunyan (director of the Percy Thompson Gallery) put me back to 70," Scott said.
"I stared when I was so young and I've done over 100 commissions and they've gone all over the world so it's amazing really," she said.
Scott said she was mostly a self-taught artist and had never been to art school.
"I was on the farm, when everyone went to bed I just sat down and started painting."
Some of the paintings show places that have since changed or disappeared, such as the memorial and crossroads at Auroa.
"The bowling club is no longer there, it's sort of moments in time that have now passed on," Scott said.
"Things are different, I think that's whats so good about paintings is they're moments in time that have happened, you'll never see that again, the man will still be on the monument but the cross roads have changed."
Scott trained as a teacher before she practised her art while raising a family and working on the family's dairy farm in South Taranaki.
She now works as a full time art tutor from her studio in Oakura.
"The education part of it is really important to me because I feel that what I've got I want to give to people, if I've got this knowledge I need to get it out there," she said.
Margaret Scott: a Sense of Place
January 20 2017
by KATH BROWN
A retrospective exhibition spanning more than 50 years of Margaret Scott's painting career will open at the Percy Thomson Gallery on February 3.
There are more than 70 original paintings in this exhibition. The first one she painted in 1963 as a teenager with white food colouring and shoe polish.
Other early works provide a variety of styles that Margaret has experimented with over the years. The cubist period in the 1980s were an exciting development for her.
"Ultimately the decision is Rhonda's as she knows how she wants the exhibition to look," said Scott.
A feature of the exhibition is Tropical Garden, three metre long, 500 mm deep triptych that will take up one entire wall in the gallery.
Scott really enjoys painting the flowers that grow in her garden and tries to paint how they grow in their natural setting with large flowers in the front receding to larger foliage of tropical plants in the background.
The exhibition opens at 7pm on Friday, February 3 and runs until the February 26.
Woollaston: The Wallace Arts Trust Collection, 1931 — 1996
As a youngster on the family farm, he would accompany Toss Woollaston out to sketch when he came to visit, and he wasn't impressed with his uncle's work.
"I used to think he was terrible, I used to try and teach him, I'd say to him 'this is how you do it.' He was pretty good, he just humoured me. My idea of a painting was to draw it like a photo," he said. "That wasn't Toss at all."
A selection of Toss Woollaston's works from the Wallace Arts Trust Collection opened on Friday and runs until January 29.
David Woollaston was invited to speak about his famous uncle at the opening.
He and his wife Lynette Woollaston have many fond memories of the artist, who visited them often at the family farm where they still live at Toko.
Toss's ashes were scattered on the farm after his death and a chimney from the original farmhouse remains as a memorial.
The couple's home looks out across the valley to Bayly's Hill, a local landmark that Toss Woollaston painted many times.
"He used to come up here at least once a year to see his father - my grandfather was 90 when he died - and to do his painting," David said.
"He was obsessed with that hill. He didn't use an easel, he stood out there with a sketchbook."
He didn't climb it very often, just painted it many times.
"He had a different way of looking at things. Once I asked him why it [Bayly's Hill] had lines on it. He said when God made the earth, he ran his fingers down the sides of those hills."
Uncle Toss enjoyed bickering in a fun way with his parents, and winding his mother up, David recalls.
"He was quite a funny guy, with a personality that was mischievous. He liked to shock people, he'd sometimes say things he didn't actually believe just to get a reaction. He didn't like the obvious route - he'd choose the less obvious. He didn't like straight lines, he didn't like things that were perfect."
Stratford Art Society Members Exhibition
Wednesday 23 November 2016
by RHONDA BUNYAN
Percy Thomson Gallery is awash with a range of interesting and diverse artwork for the November Stratford Arts Society Exhibition.
In fact, there are more than 300 artworks on display, most for sale.
Prices are always reasonable and individuality and creativity abounds.
The groups also supports and encourages artists, both emerging and established, at local, regional and national levels. Members are all ages, all backgrounds exploring a myriad of different styles and medium.
It is a safe environment for first-time exhibitors who may feel a little nervous about presenting their work to the public. However, the friendly and helpful support of the society allays any fears and newbies get a great feeling of satisfaction when seeing their work on display.
Call in before closing day, Sunday, December 4 at 3pm.
Colour Explosion, Colour and Form, Colour for the Soul
Wednesday 12 October 2016
by RHONDA BUNYAN
Three exhibitions with vibrant energy and dazzling colour as their central theme open at Percy Thomson this Friday, evening at 7pm.
Taranaki Patchworkers and Quilters (TPQ) lead the charge with a group of 'challenges' under the umbrella Colour Explosion.
Come On Board with Textiles was organised to give students, artists and the public an opportunity to show their creative and crafting skills by mounting on a framed canvas.
Taranaki ceramic artist Anthea Stayt is guest artist for TPQ. Her exhibition is titled Colour & Form. The award-winning ceramicist has created a number of patchwork-style pieces especially for this exhibition.
Her forms are decoratively finished with layers of brushed on oils. By layering and painting in this manner, Anthea creates a unique finish to her bold and contemporary sculptural works.
The community gallery will host a collaborative exhibition by Auckland artist Nemesh and Taranaki potters Kathryn Gates and Barbara Nicholls.
Born in Yugoslavia (Serbia), and now living in New Zealand, Vjekoslav Nemesh has been a professional artist since 1984.
He began drawing at an early age with an interest in comics, which progressed into more detailed and graphic representations.
In his early 20s a schoolmate commissioned him to create a large oil painting, and that has been his choice of medium since.
In his early 20s a schoolmate commissioned him to create a large oil painting, and that has been his choice of medium since.
Nemesh says the 'overwhelming magnificence of nature's creation' inspires him to explore the depths of his soul, where conscious meets unconscious.
Nemesh has participated in more than 300 group exhibitions in New Zealand and overseas and has had more than 50 solo exhibitions in the former Yugoslavia, Sri Lanka, United States and New Zealand.
Barbara Nicholls has been involved in pottery for the past 30 years. While keen on all facets of working with clay, Barbara relishes the energy and thought processes involved in wheel throwing.
Barbara focuses on glaze techniques and reduction firing in a gas kiln and is currently experimenting with porcelain and traditional style oriental reduction glazes, such as copper red.
Kathryn Gates first connected with clay more than 30 years ago when she attended classes in Invercargill.
"I channel my creative energy by developing forms on the wheel, especially platters and bowls, using high-fired stoneware and porcelain clay bodies. I particularly like working with porcelain, adding texture and colour."
Kathryn decorates her work using Chinese-style glazes, and experiments with ash, copper and barium. Reduction firing in a gas kiln to a temperature of 1300C creates a variety of effects.
The exhibition runs until November 6.
The Adam Portraiture Award 2016, and Elemental: Merv Turner & Margaret Foley
Friday 23 September 2016
by ROLLAND MCKELLAR
A feature of the latest exhibition at the Percy Thomson Art Gallery, Stratford was the presence of the winner Andre Bronnimann, who spoke about his outstanding work 'Sisters'. This was a large oil on canvas painting, which depicted three Maori women with moko - namely Te Rawanake, Inahaa Te Urutahi and Waikere Puru.
Second place was awarded to Logan Moffat's 'R.U. Stitch'. This oil painting showed a heavily tattooed young man standing in front of a barber shop. He is in a quiet reflective mood - "a sophisticated use of light and the window glass reflects gives the subject a double character."
One which caught my eye was a watercolour entitled 'Polperro, Devon, England' showing a quaint coastal village.
Writer Katherine Mansfield once walked from Looe, where she was staying, to nearby Polperro with artist friend Anne Estelle Rice where they ate strawberries as they gazed down on the sea. I loved his Taranaki paintings such as the moody 'Mount Taranaki Sunset' and 'Autumn in Tarata'.
Margaret Foley's pottery features her vivid imagination and expert artistry. At affordable prices there was something for every taste including her exquisite 'Daisy Plate', 'Pot with Attitude,' - and with humour to the fore - 'Beach Babe Sandy'. I was especially intrigued by her fascinating 'The Old Homestead.'
Make sure you don't miss this outstanding exhibition, which runs from September 16 to October 9. The quality of the diverse exhibits is astoundingly excellent.
Arrival, Treasures from the BNZ Art Collection
Friday 26 August 2016
by ROLLAND MCKELLAR
"This is an amazing demonstration of art," enthused, Cr Richard Handley one of the speakers at the official opening of 'Arrival: Treasures from the BNZ Collection' on Friday August 12 at Percy Thomson Art Gallery.
The BNZ Art Collection (selection) consisted of 36 exhibits from the 'creme de la crème of NZ art'. The main organiser was Steivan Juvalta of Private Bank, New Plymouth. The exhibition runs until September 11 and, frankly, no art lover should miss out on this one. The collection was first established in 1982 (and added to since then) by Peter McLeavey to represent all that is worthwhile in NZ art, past and present.
"Amazing - he was one of the last to see them, although he did the painting from memory," commented Terry Parkes. Someone else suggested that a photograph may have been used.
Another painting which drew positive comment was Trevor Moffit's 'Stanley Graham' (oil painting), although not everyone was aware of its forensic significance. The subject was the perpetrator of one of NZ's worst massacres, when he shot and killed civilians and policemen on the West Coast of the South Island (Near Hokitika).
The work of Ans Westra was on display, two silver bromide photographs. The subject was entitled 'The Auckland Community Centre' showing a social setting involving dancing - perhaps The Twist.
As Bill Davies of the Village Art Gallery "It's a really stunning exhibition," so make sure you don't miss out. Remember, September 11 is your last chance, but you really need to visit the Percy Art Gallery more than once for this outstanding exhibition.
Arrival: Treasures from the BNZ Art Collection
18 August 2016
by CATHERINE GROENESTEIN
Some of New Zealand's most iconic art has arrived for a month-long exhibition in Stratford.
It was the first time such a large selection of the BNZ's art collection had been taken to another gallery, said Percy Thomson Gallery director Rhonda Bunyan.
With official openings for both the BNZ and the public, daytime school class visits and a lot of interest from the art community around Taranaki, Bunyan predicted a very busy month.
BNZ Taranaki Managing Partner Marcus McLeod said it was a personal highlight to be able to bring so many notable works to Taranaki.
"It is extremely rare for these works to be in a public gallery so it is thrilling for us to provide Taranaki art enthusiasts with an opportunity to see such a large part of our collection in one place.
"The theme of the exhibition is connection and the works that we have chosen explore our connection to the land, the complexity of relationships and the beginning and endings of journeys."
22 June 2016
by RHONDA BUNYAN
Taranaki Creative Fibre members have been beavering away to produce some fine work to exhibit in their biennial exhibition opening at Percy Thomson Gallery on Saturday June 25.
The talented and innovative group covers a wide array of disciplines; weaving, knitting, spinning, felting, dyeing. Many of the artists hold National awards and are experts in manipulating texture and form.
Each piece will be judged and prizes awarded across several categories which range from design expertise to the use of colour and specific fibres such as silk, alpaca, flax, wool, linen and cotton including a recycled category.
Guest artist is Rosalind Thomsen from Whanganui.
Rosalind has long been fascinated by fibre. She says it is part of hr heritage.
"My mother and one of my sisters taught me to knit, crochet and embroider. The possibilities inherent within these crafts have exerted an enduring lure on my imagination.
"I have been experimenting with textures: the texture of different types of threads, the textures that can be created with different stitches, and how different colours and thicknesses of thread in various combinations can affect the look of a given piece. The shape, form and movement of each piece give vitality and movement to the works.
Rosalind's emphasis currently is on three dimensional work. Instead of mark-making on paper or canvas, she has been drawing in space, painting with threads.
An opening celebration, including exhibition awards, preview and afternoon tea will be held on Sunday 26 June at 2pm.
Taranaki Arts Trail
25 May 2016
by RHONDA BUNYAN
Percy Thomson Gallery is proud to host the 2016 Taranaki Arts Trail Exhibition from May 27 – June 19.
On the weekend of June 11 and 12, more than 70 Taranaki artists will open their studios and workshops to the public, providing a unique opportunity for the art-loving public to meet them, view their work and discuss the finer points of their craft.
Percy Thomson Gallery will be exhibiting artwork from most of the trail artists, and the majority will be for sale. We will also have a selection of work from artists who are exhibiting in 'Places of interest'.
Taranaki Arts Trail co-ordinator Amanda Hewlett says the ultimate aim of the trail is to build a greater understanding in the community of the process involved and the skills required in creating a work of art.
To assist visitors in planning their self-guided tour, it has been divided geographically into five smaller sections. These are North, East, South, West and New Plymouth. Admission is free. The artists' studios and workshops are open from 9.30am to 4.30pm on the weekend of June 11 and 12. Percy Thomson Gallery will extend its hours to be open at the same times.
Some artists are also open on Friday, June 10. Details are on the individual artist's page.
Brochures and accompanying maps are available from the gallery, libraries and I-site centres.
You are welcome to attend the opening/preview function on Friday, May 27 at 7pm. Gumboot Tango are performing.
Stratford Art Society
"I get withdrawal symptoms if I'm not touching clay at some stage during the day," she admits.
Margaret was introduced to potting "40-something years ago". It was during the 70s, the halcyon days of the New Zealand pottery movement, when artists could make a living from their work. Domestic-ware was in demand and used every day. It was a potter's bread and butter.
Margaret was introduced to pottery at night classes.
"All the other ladies stopped, and I kept going."
Margaret, with help from family and friends, erected a large wood-fired salt kiln on her, and husband Terry's, Midhirst property.
The edifice was dubbed the Taj Mahal.
"It would take three days with no sleep to fire the pots. We would think this is such a stupid idea and when we saw the results we would think it was marvellous. And when were we going to do the next one?"
It was a social event with other artists turning up with food and drink and taking turns to stoke.
"Terry had to cut the wood to size, and stack it to dry. We probably had three firings a year."
A small electric kiln has now been brought into service. Margaret fires at a higher temperature than many potters as this gives strength to her pieces, many of which are made for gardens. Margaret still participates in group pit firing with the New Plymouth Potters group.
"Raku is a fun thing to do. You don't know what you're going to get. It's always a surprise when it comes out the other end. Most of my work is hand-shaped now, but I have made a couple of casseroles on the wheel for my granddaughters."
Margaret's work is quirky, often unique and unusual. Trademarks are her indentations, patterns and symbols, pressed into the clay.
Pottery by Margaret has found its way into far-away lands such as Mongolia. Highlights have been selection to the Fletcher exhibition in the Auckland Museum, four times. Her work has been shown in exhibitions throughout New Zealand.
Margaret is always keen to assist newcomers and has tutored many classes.
"I can't help myself. I love to help out."
Margaret is a long-time member of the Stratford Art Society and will be exhibiting in the upcoming exhibition which opens at Percy Thomson Gallery on Friday, April 29 at 7pm.
26 March 2016
by RHONDA BUNYAN
Connections 2016 comprises eight female Taranaki artists who explore the pathways through which their art has taken them, connecting them in a common thread of artistic exploration.
Of each of the artist's contribution, one is exhibited and offered for sale, one becomes part of a collection donated to a chosen art institute, while the remainder are sent in mixed packs back to the artists; an exchange between peers – a parcel of surprises.
Connections 2016 artists are Jenny Bielawski, Viv Davy, Juliet Chell, Sue Morton, Antonia O'Mahony, Frances Rookes, Chris Poletti and Dorothy Andrews. Each is on her respective creative journey, working with different mediums to bring exciting works to the community and the art world.
Antonia O'Mahony travelled for many years, then settled in Cork, Ireland, where she was a member of Cork Printmakers, a professional studio for printmakers.
Since returning to New Zealand with her family she has worked from her home studio in Taranaki.
Antonia describes her work as "investigating the human form and how it relates to and interacts with its environment and activities. Attempting to illustrate a world in which everything is interrelated and connected, I use drawing and printmaking to take the body into distortions, which express this on the physical.
Inglewood artist Dorothy Andrews says of her work: "I love to draw plants, especially leaves and take pride in every little detail.
"I also enjoy drawing things from my head. Just fragments of things jumbled together to form distant memories of things that perhaps never were, or have long since crumbled away to form new shapes and objects. What these shapes represent to the viewer is determined by their own memories. Everyone interprets them differently.
"I am very focused on the environment and our lack of respect for it."
Frances' re-creation of 'questionably perfect and skeletal forms' make reference to life's experience, self-sufficiency and human resilience. Huinga artist Sue Morton says that whatever else has been going on in her life, art has always been the 'constant'.
"Above all, I enjoy the challenge of creating something new. Who knows where this road will take me?"
Her latest series, 'Remnants of a Slice of Heaven', was born through a fascination with a local garage left desolate with remnants of the previous tenant's life there.Opunake artist Viv Davy works with various fibre media, ranging from silk to wire. Her current body of work, 'Sequential', is an exploration of repetition and the building of layers of content.
"Creating works that change as the angle of view moves, challenge quick initial perceptions and invite the viewer to linger and engage more deeply."
"The ideas come into my brain in their raw form and I develop them onto paper, canvas or into structures often made with fibre or fabric, or anything else that might take my fancy.
"Half the fun is choosing what medium to develop an idea. Sometimes the idea comes from the medium, other times the medium is adapted to the idea. It is intriguing to be able to find so many interesting materials and change their form into a 'work of art'."
About 10 years ago Chris Poletti began taking photographs as a hobby and discovered a passion for it. Her professional career in graphic design helped with composing an image before pressing the button.
"The feeling of space is important to me, especially now that I live in New Plymouth and those rural views can no longer be taken for granted," she said."The atmosphere and light in these images add another dimension to the landscape photographs that is at times serene and at other times mysterious."
Juliet Chell was born in Whanganui but she grew up on a farm east of Stratford, Huiakama. Juliet is a multi-disciplinary artist, working across sculpture, drawing, painting and printmaking. Her work is informed by cultural and social issues, including information technology and the influence it has on our lives.
Flight of fancy
This outstanding exhibition features the work of five New Zealand artists who have an affinity with our feathered friends, Miranda Woollett, Martin Carryer, Margaret Scott, Lee-Ann Dixon and Justine Giles.
"The idea behind these oil paintings is to try and represent how I feel emotionally as an artist and to communicate on an environmental level. Rather than using people as my subject I choose the bird. It is vulnerable, yet gets on with life regardless of circumstances and has a neutral persona. Its environment is affected by the choices we make.
Miranda has illustrated books for renowned children's authors Margaret Mahy and Joy Cowley.
Martin first delved into woodwork around the age of 10, crafting samples to demonstrate the beauty in the grain of various timbers. Though his livelihood was farming in Taranaki and the Manawatu.
Martin started making furniture in the 1970s, one-off pieces in native timbers. In the last decade he has become increasingly interested in contemporary design and has become progressively experimental.
Margaret has had numerous solo exhibitions in the Taranaki region and has exhibited widely throughout New Zealand.
Margaret now works from her Art by the Sea studio at Oakura and regularly offers workshops and classes.
"Since then I have been juggling my art practice with raising my four children and work. As my life changes so does my artwork. Mostly it is an ongoing theme of motherhood and domesticity. As my children grow older I have more time to reflect and remember my own childhood and identity," she told me.
"When the kids were smaller it was teacups and teapots referring to nurture, family and precious time out for a stressed mum. Now it's moths, birds, animal skulls and even teddies."
Lee-Ann paints on recycled silver trays.
"This was born from watching my late mother's china cabinet full of her treasures and the special memories attached to them. Sadly, when I went to the recycle centres and garage sales I saw many of these same treasures that had been discarded.
Her works in this exhibition are about childhood memories of growing up in the countryside in the 1970s.