Diverse showing at exhibition


The latest art exhibition at Customs House Gallery is ‘‘Diversity’’ by name, and diversity ‘‘by its very nature’’, Christchurch artist and judge Christine King says.

The Colin Wheeler Memorial Biennial Art Exhibition 2022, run by the North Otago Art Society at Customs House Gallery, has 46 works on display — a mixture of paintings in oils, acrylics, watercolours, and mixed mediums, as well as pastel and digital works.

Guest artist and society member Mathea Daunheimer is also showing her textile art upstairs in the gallery, where there is also a self-portrait section from the Children’s Creative Art Group, of young artists aged between 10 and 14.

King, an established artist, with more than 25 years of exhibiting experience, said each artwork had to be judged on its merit.

‘‘You know its composition and colour . . .the uniqueness, the creativity sort of side of it. It’s not just, ‘Hello, here’s a frontrunner’.’’

King herself has had 12 solo exhibitions and been part of group exhibitions throughout the country, and her work had been shown in London.

She was probably most recognised for her art deco works, especially ‘‘my ladies’’, but liked to just ‘‘go with the flow’’ when it came to her work.

‘‘I don’t just get up and go, I’m going to do another one of these.

‘‘So I can respect the different angles people are coming from. I mean, if we all did the same thing, we’d cancel each other out.’’

She said judging was more than just seeing a work and saying ‘‘I like this’’. Size did not matter, and good art was good art, whether it was abstract or realistic.

‘‘It either works or it doesn’t work.’’ North Otago Art Society president Paula Gray said she was pleased with the number of entries, and the theme had come through really well.

The artists ranged from ‘‘very good amateurs to extremely accomplished artists’’.

The quality of the nine children’s self-portraits was impressive, considering their ages and how difficult it was to do a self-portrait, she said.

‘‘I think they’ve definitely done a good job.’’

Daunheimer, who hailed from Mid-Coast Maine, near Boston in the United States, said she had done and studied art since she was a child, but turned to textiles about 15 years ago, when her then 2-year-old son ‘‘started getting into everything’’.

‘‘I couldn’t paint with regular paints, because he’d eat them.

‘‘Then I discovered quilting, and I was like, oh, I don’t think I’m a traditional quilter, but I discovered that you could paint on fabric with non-toxic inks, so if my kid swallowed them it just didn’t matter.’’

Her works were either quilted then painted, or painted then quilted, she said.

‘‘I tend to draw from the stuff that’s around me. Moana One, that one’s all stuff I used to see snorkelling when we lived up in Northland.’’

Daunheimer has lived in Oamaru for about six years, and New Zealand for 10. Her family became New Zealand citizens just before the first Covid-19 lockdown.

She has just started working with oils and other mediums again, ‘‘because now my kid’s 17 and doesn’t eat my paint’’.

The exhibition opened last week, and runs until April 3. The gallery is open from Thursday to Sunday, between 10am and 3pm.