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Celebrating the region’s exhibitions

fiona and the collection team

It’s been a theme of openings recently. Friday 26 May I went to Hastings City Art Gallery Te Whare Toi o Heretaunga for the launch of the Design Kahungunu exhibition. This collaborative effort with Iwi Toi Kahungunu artists features works from established, mid-career and emerging artists. The opening was a wonderful event with a large crowd gathered to support the artists, the gallery and the kaupapa. Sandy Adsett continues to play an important role in supporting, developing, encouraging and connecting Ngāti Kahungunu artists and this is another great example of that ongoing mahi. I can recommend it’s worth viewing for yourself.

The previous weekend, on Saturday 20 May, Central Hawke’s Bay Museum celebrated the opening of Ghosts of the Past. A series of photographic works by Jeremy Bright exploring the closed Waikpukurau Hospital – before the land is redeveloped for housing. There’s always something poignant in photos of abandoned medical institutions and one can imbue them with a myriad of meanings. This speaks to the power of objects and places and the memories that are embedded in them. I didn’t get the chance to see this earlier at Hastings City Art Gallery, so was glad to have the opportunity to attend this opening. Central Hawke’s Bay Council supported the museum in recognition of International Museum Day, 18 May, with a free sausage sizzle and, thanks to the Gwen Malden Charitable Trust, the museum was also able to announce free entry for a year. If you find yourself in Central Hawke’s Bay do take the opportunity to visit this special place.

The night before, Friday 19 May, we opened Tāku Huia Kaimanawa: Fiona Pardington at MTG Hawke’s Bay Tai Ahuriri. This beautiful series of works by Fiona Pardington are all taken from the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust collection. A pair of huia birds (one female, one male) along with three individual huia feathers feature in the artworks. Fiona’s work, capturing huia in public and private collections, both gives the birds a new life and ensures they are documented for future generations. Fiona recognises that the way birds were taxidermied and the toxic materials used may eventually mean they disintegrate – a form of “second extinction”. Indeed Fiona and the team at MTG had to don hazmat suits, masks and goggles when working with the birds due to the toxic materials in the birds. The final product is works that are powerful and stunning and, in my view, a must see.

All these art exhibition openings speak to the vibrancy and range across Hawke’s Bay’s public institutions. Of course May also saw the road to Wairoa reopening, reconnecting the region and another very important form of opening. The Wairoa Museum is always well worth a visit, sharing stories of place and time, and I’m sure they’d love to have visitors back in the rohe.

I strongly encourage you to explore your regional and local public institutions and the experiences they have to offer. They all play distinct and important roles in sharing past, present and future stories, artworks, themes and concepts. They are there for you and are your places – celebrate and support them, challenge them, test them but above all – embrace them.

Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today newspaper 3 June 2023 and written by Laura Vodanovich, Director at MTG Hawke’s Bay.

Image: Fiona Pardington with Kelly Carmichael of Starkwhite Gallery and the MTG Collections team in preparation to view the precious taxidermied huia.

6 June 2023

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