18 December 2021 to 30 January 2022
Curated by Rhonda Bunyan
An exhibition by established Taranaki artists who have been invited to explore ‘the art of resilience' through new works to celebrate Percy Thomson Gallery’s 20th birthday.
Percy Thomson Gallery is Stratford's public art gallery and was opened in June 2002 following a bequest to the district by former mayor and businessman Percy Thomson. The gallery is operated by a trust, under the umbrella of the Stratford District Council.
The gallery has developed and grown over the years, now receiving national recognition as a thriving and diverse exhibition space catering for all age groups and interests and involving the community at large.
The gallery provides an extensive programme of exhibitions and events both internally-generated and toured from other art collections and national institutions.
New exhibitions open every three to four weeks. Exhibitions vary between national, local and regional artists – established and emerging.
Gallery director Rhonda Bunyan says Percy Thomson Gallery has become a regional ‘love-mark’, and has represented most Taranaki artists in some capacity over the past 20 years.
‘Whist we have an outstanding national reputation and have formed strong relationships with national entities such as Te Papa Tongarewa and the Portrait Gallery of NZ, it is the grassroots promotion of the province’s many talented artists that is our driving force. Our artists appreciate our ongoing commitment to them.’
More than 20,000 visitors come to the gallery each year, with some exhibitions drawing regular visitors from throughout Aotearoa.
Over the years Percy Thomson Gallery has presented some prestigious exhibitions:
‘Remembering Rodin’, developed and toured by Te Papa Tongarewa, provided a rare opportunity to experience Rodin’s legacy through the sculpture ‘Eve’ (1882); ‘Marti Freidlander: Portraits of the Artists’ toured by NZ Portrait Gallery; ‘Toss Wollaston’, the Wallace Trust Collection; ‘Arrival, NZ Treasures from the BNZ Collection’; ‘Nigel Brown: I am, We are’.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary Bunyan has curated an exhibition, ‘The Art of Resilience’ which features work by 68 senior Taranaki artists who have spent years honing their skills, and who have been through the ‘associated ups and downs’ that go with giving your life over to creating art on a regular basis.
Bunyan has also edited a book with all participating artists' personal profiles, with meaningful insights into their practice and how they view their place in the world of art.
Rewarding and uplifting cultural experience
The late Percy Thomson left an amazing legacy to the people of the Stratford District. His bequest was the catalyst for the establishment of this gallery.
I never had the pleasure to meet Mr Thomson, (he died on 24 August 1962) but believe that he would be proud of the efforts taken and results achieved to give his bequest life in an immediate and enduring manner.
None of this would have been possible without the efforts of the successive gallery directors – Aaron Laurence, Sue Morton, Maree Wilson and Rhonda Bunyan. In particular longer serving directors, Sue and Rhonda, have made major contributions to the gallery’s success and development giving it local, regional and national renown. They have each lifted the gallery to a new level creating their own legacy.
There have been others closely involved with the success – the team of part-time and volunteer staff providing necessary support and back-up to the respective directors; the trustees who have provided invaluable support and guidance, ably supported by the Council and officers of the Stratford District Council.
Above all, the gallery’s success would not have been possible without the support of the artists of Stratford, of Taranaki and further afield. It has been a real pleasure to provide them with many opportunities to exhibit their work; to see the progress that they have made in their own development; and to give the residents of and visitors to the district a rewarding and uplifting cultural experience every time they visit the gallery.
We celebrate with pleasure and pride the 20th anniversary of the gallery. Every person who has been involved in one way or another with the gallery enjoy and accept the direct or reflected glory of what we have all achieved.
Bruce Ellis, Chairperson
Percy Thomson Trust
‘The Art of Resilience’ exhibition curated by Gallery Director Rhonda Bunyan
A group of children from a local primary school visited the gallery recently and I mentioned our upcoming ‘Art of Resilience’ exhibition and asked them if they knew what resilience meant. None did, but teacher Carol Door said, ‘When you don’t feel like doing something, or it feels too hard, you keep doing it’.
That sums it up.
There are times in our life when we are overwhelmed and just want to curl up in a ball and tell the world to go away. These are often the times we have to dig deep, to source energy and motivation from a reservoir that is almost empty.
We put one foot in front of another and trudge on, with the hope that ‘this too shall pass’. We are faced with decisions, every day, that we don’t always have the answers for.
Often, it is the deeply creative and sensitive soul that suffers the most from times of un-ease, doubt and uncertainty.
Society is not surprised if a deeply creative person (think artist / musician / dancer / writer / actor) collapses in a great steaming heap, lives as a hermit, or sadly, ends their lives.
History reminds us that some of our most revered artists have suffered from mental health issues, have been alcoholics or drug abusers, or have, on occasion, deserted families and gone bush, unable to sustain the added pressure of familial relationships.
Granted, not all artists, and maybe only the odd few, fall into the above category; for others their personal journey has been clear-cut, meticulously planned and free of personal disaster or self-doubt. They have healthy self-esteem, love what they do, and never succumb to histrionics or engage in self-destructive behaviour.
We must be careful, I know, not to buy into a stereotypical image of artists ‘struggling and subsisting in a garret’.
Throughout my tenure as director of Percy Thomson Gallery, I have engaged with hundreds of artists who have worn varying coats of many different colours, designs and textures.
One thing they have in common: Their art is the culmination of their brain working in concert with their hands, manifesting a work that excites and fulfills them.
To mark our 20th birthday I have invited artists who, I believe, have ‘walked the walk’; have chosen to stay true to their calling during good, bad and indifferent times.
Some have endured difficult times. Some have dealt with crippling depression. Some have been overwhelmed by periods of ‘imposter syndrome’; others have felt battered by the opinions of others. Some have had periods of ‘I’m over it!’ But here they are today! Resilience personified!
A few artists began their art career at a stage when they were financially able to support their practice; others still view it as a hobby; some brave souls jumped in boots and all at a young age shouting to the world ‘I am an artist!’
Artwork is as unique as its creators. We strive to capture, and to express our varied realities.
Art builds resilience when we make creative choices, even if we don’t know how a particular artwork will turn out or whether it will strike a chord with those who view it.
There are common questions we ask ourselves:
‘Am I doing this for me, or am I doing it for the people who view it? Do I create to appeal to a market who will buy my work, or do I create for me? Does it matter in the end?’
There’s nothing wrong with making art to make money, but it does require balance.
As one artist said, ‘You’ll burn out if you don’t keep sight of that which deeply fulfills you, forsaking your deep passions for cash.’
Most of these artists have been creating artwork for years and have been through the highs and lows that come with being a full-time artist. Their practice, dare I say, is central to their emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing.
Okato artist Alby Carter told me that he literally felt ill if he wasn’t able to paint every day.
Even now, in his early 70s, he feels unwell, or at least out of sorts, if he doesn’t pick up a paintbrush every day.
‘If for some reason I can’t do it [paint] for a couple of weeks I start to think there is something wrong somewhere.’
I guess, for some, their art is what stops them going ‘crazy’.
It’s just the way it is!
Pottery, 170mm h x 230mm w—$88
Wanderer Arrives While Suzanne Holds The Mirror 2021
Oil on canvas
1150mm x 960mm
The Wanderer has carried his identifying sack through a painting series. Here he enters the context of the Leonard Cohen song 'Suzanne' where 'The sun pours down like honey on our lady of the harbour, and she shows you where to look among the garbage and the flowers... while Suzanne holds the mirror.'
Peaches and Cream
Acrylic on ACM
750mm x 750mm
Bronze on Takaka Marble
Bronze on Takaka Marble
Bronze on Takaka Marble
Acrylic on canvas, 915mm w x 609mm h
830mm x 560mm
There Will Always be Mountains
Assemblage of found and worked objects 150mm w x 500mm h—$525
Rhodendron ‘Sir Robert Peel’—Iconic Pukekura Park Tree
Photoprint on Moab Baryta Rag archival paper, 970mm x 810mm—$1500
Girl with a Power
Charcoal powder on wood board
110mm h x 80mm w
On Golden Horizons
Monoprint, gold leaf, Hahnemuhle paper
650mm h x 610mm w, framed
on golden horizons
the journey on
but not quite
Astral Storm I
Clay, 140mm h x 50mm h—$80
Oils, 710mm w x 160mm d x 560mm h
$1850 ⬤ SOLD
Oil on canvas
950mm x 950mm
$3000 ⬤ SOLD
Porcelain clay and glazes
360mm diameter x 100mm height
Dreams of Air Nona
Oil, 930mm w x 630mm h—$1500
Question is how has art been a factor in my resilience. Reflecting on this I recalled the situation I was in 40 years ago and how a challenging, but surprising new environment, initiated a healing process and triggered a yearning to start painting. It was serendipitous that we as a family came to be living by a spring. Air Nona (Air pronounced ire meaning spring and Nona young woman in Bahas Indonesian.)
We were in the city of Kupang West Timor burnt dry for nine months of the year. It held secrets though, hidden springs in random places surrounded by giant banyan tress and palms attracting life to them. The spring became a metaphor for me and a way forward.
This small painting which I have included was a new beginning for me. Painted from our home on the banks of Air Nona 40 years ago.
Expression In Teal
Oil and aerosol on canvas
850mm x 850mm
Oil on Canvas
700 mm x 600 mm
Xena at Leith Road Beach, Okato 2021
1150mm h x 910mm w
Kekerengu NZ Bush Cockroach
Mixed media, 300mm l—$320
Stand Tall, Be Resilient
The totem is made using the slab work technique and is hand painted using ceramic paints before being clear glazed and high fired in the kiln.
The bright colours will brighten up the garden when it is dormant and gives colour all year round.
I hope the totem makes you smile.
Deception and Truth
600mm h x 600mm l x 400mm w
Deception is the act of making someone believe something that is not true:
Snakes, for example. Rattlesnakes evoke fear, however there is deception fear about snakes;
Three truths inform snake fear.
1. If a snake has eaten within 3 days, it has not made enough venom to harm an adult.
2. The snake might notice that you, an adult human would not be something it could swallow. Why inject that precious venom?
3. Most snakes would prefer to hold still or slither off before being seen by a human. Or,
Did you step on the snake and hurt it? You did not pay attention to its loud rattle warning?
When you go into the emergency room for a snake bite — they make you wait for 3 hours to see if you react to the bite before they use the antidote. The medical workers have the cure, it works, but they won’t use it unless needed. Now that you know about snakes, do you have the same fear?
The moral of the art – recognize the truth. The little globe balanced near the snake; a map of our world has astonishing truth. Truth does not generate fear.
Silver and sapphires—$624
800mm x 600mm
In the Woods (Turon Poland)
760mm x 560mm
$695 ⬤ SOLD
450mm x 120mm
Oils on canvas, 920mm x 1220mm—$7000
Acrylic on canvas, 1200mm w x 800mm h
Oil and oil sticks on linen
850mm x 560mm
Autumn Leaves Lidded Box
Beech, 180mm h x 190mm w—$600
All Things Strange and Wonderful
Mixed media construction
620mm w x 550mm h x 470mm d
Papier mache and mixed media
Base: 270 x 190mm x 1100mm h
Happy Harry is a testament to the Resilience of puppetry and Marionettes which were first evident in 5000 BC. In this age of digital devices and electronic toys, they still hold a strong fascination today for all ages.
Less Than 24 Hours to Live in ICU
Photograph, 305mm w x 202mm h
Due to the extremely personal nature of this photograph the curator has agreed that the artwork will not be offered for sale.
Ex Horto Meo MMXX (detail)
Plant Prints on paper, prints sewn onto recycled linen tablecloth fabric,
600mm x 5850mm (approximately)—$2000
Every day of 2020 a small part of plant was taken from my garden and pressed into black ink, then printed onto a small piece of torn printing paper. The botanical and common names have been written onto that paper. Each month the small plant prints were sewn onto a torn piece of linen table cloth in order of dates. This begins on Jan 1st 2020 and finishes 31 Dec 2020.
Fibre, stretched gesso canvas
200mm x 600mm
My Time to Shine
670mm w x 650mm h
Triple Ocean Shell Pattern
Acrylic on canvas
1000mm x 1000mm
David Le Fleming
Maiden Voyage — Ngamotu 1893
Oil on suitcase, 615mm x 400mm x 200mm
Credit: Puke Ariki archive – Election day in New Plymouth, 1893, PHO2008-626
Many Paths — No Real Answers
200mm h x 750mm w x 450mm d—$3821
And believe in your journey.
Without light there is no colour.
Light is the true colour
Light and reflection are manipulated
With simple form.
Lighthouse on the Giant’s Causeway
Stained glass/Jarrah wood
800mm h x 360mm w x 280mm d
At the Beach
Stone – Taranaki Andesite
270mm d x 245mm h—$4800
130mm w x 320mm h
Acrylic on canvas and wood
1070mm w x 810mm h—$9000
Vista from Papawhenua / Mt Moturoa
Acrylic, 780mm h x 1030mm w—$1000
This vista from Kawhia to Ngamotu beach has been contemplated for hundreds of years by the Tangatawhenua of the area.
From the beginning of Colonial Occupancy the area has been developed with the construction of the port and the city. Contemplating this vista allows one to reflect on the resilience of he landscape despite the modifications imposed on it in the name of progress and despite the trappings of civilization imposed upon it.
Into the Groove
Acrylic, ink and foil on canvas
1000mm x 1000mm
Ancient Vessel 1
Multi-fired raku 210mm x 210mm—$295
Copper Red Jug
Oil on stoneware clay
330mm w x 420mm h x 330mm d
Carrara marble, 440mm x 320mm 130mm
The Art of Awaiting Inspiration
Photograph on Canvas
400mm w x 600mm h
Hold Your Own
Black Italian marble / Corten steel
190mm x 160mm x 300mm—$1850
Demeter Luring PersephoneFrom Winter
Oil on board
330mm w x 380mm h
Chaos Theory I: Araiadne and the Thread
Oil and gold foil on canvas
900mm x 600mm
Between Chaos and Order there is a zone Norman Packard called the ‘edge of chaos’. It is here that ideas are born. Artists and creators, through their resilience, step into this zone to find threads not knowing where they will lead but still determined to make the journey regardless.
Digital photograph printed on aluminium
690mm w x 1100mm h
340mm h x 435mm w—$185
Maryanne van Roij
Oil on canvas, 102mm h x 760mm —$1195
Oil on canvas
1400mm x 905mm x 30mm
Barry Te Whatu
Ruru v’s Pekapeka (2021)
Bowenite (Himalayan Jade), whalebone, paua inlay and stone base, 120mm h x 100mm w x 30mm d
As I wait for the warm evenings of summer and listen out into the darkness, will I hear the Cry of the Ruru this year?
Nocturnal and seldom seen, the Ruru is somewhat of an enigma. The Ruru is a revered kaiaki and strongly associated with the spirit world in Māori Mythology and Tradition.
Today our Ruru has become a measure, a snapshot to the wellbeing of our flora fauna—if the Ruru is doing well our environment is doing well.
Tangi ā te ruru, kei te hokihoki mai e
E whakawherowhero i te pūtahitanga
The cry of the morepork keeps coming back to me
It is hooing out there where the paths meet
Beginning lyrics to waiata Te Hokinga Mai, composed by Te Taite Cooper and Father Mariu (1986)
Dale Devereux Copeland
Assemblage of found objects, 210mm x 390mm x 150 mm—$1280
You ask what is Resilience my child? I will tell you.
Resilience is the indomitable spirit which allows, no, which forces you to rise up and be yourself, no matter what restrictions and hardship you suffer.
Fear and Desire
Embroidery in wool thread, watercolour and metallic leaf
445mm x 345mm