28 August – 15 November 2020
This exhibition showcases the work of 18 printmakers from Grafiekgroep Bergen in The Netherlands and the New Zealand Print Council. It explores the artistic kinship that exists between the two countries.
Featured New Zealand artists: Jacqueline Aust, Kathy Boyle, Beth Charles, Mark Graver, Steve Lovett, Kim Lowe, Prue MacDougall, Catherine Macdonald, Carole Shepheard.
Featured Dutch artists: Elsbeth Cochius, Gea Karhof, Hans Kleinsman, Madeleine Leddy, Piet Lont, Nan Mulder, Jadranka Njegovan, José van Tubergen, Eric van der Wal.
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Since the arrival of Māori in New Zealand more than 800 years ago, successive explorers have made their mark, each layered on top of the other. Two of these layers are prominent in the name of our land – Aotearoa New Zealand – providing abstract yet powerful notions of identity and inherent links to kinship.
Frank Carpay was one of the many thousands of Dutch immigrants who arrived in New Zealand during the 1950s and 1960s. He arrived in Auckland in 1953, an innovative designer and decorator of ceramics who initially found employment at Crown Lynn pottery. Unfortunately, the conservative New Zealand buying public of that era found his work ‘foreign’, and his design line Handwerk was not a financial success. It was not until the early 2000s that his designs were given the respect they deserved. His work is now highly collectable and is held in Te Papa Tongarewa, New Zealand’s national museum. Remembering Carpay depicts Carpay’s stylized bird design flying over a New Zealand landscape.
Abel Tasman is officially recognized as the first European to discover New Zealand in 1642, and his men the first to encounter Māori. My series of prints celebrates this achievement, and the ongoing connection and migration between the two countries. The prints are all equally concerned with the theme of the exhibition Distant Kinship.
In Barkskins by Annie Proulx I read about reckless destruction of the forest, including the Kauri trees. It made a deep impression on me. I wanted to make my New Zealand print about these giants, which only grow there. They are the oldest and highest trees of the world, and they are sacred to the Māori. With this print I aim to show the magic and majestic appearance of the Kauri and the habitat it creates for plants, insects and animals. Usually I carve lines and structures, but this time I have cut out the tree shapes and printed them thinly over each other to obtain the layered atmosphere of the woods.
Layered memories of place and time, places observed, drawings revisited and stories old. The shop on the hill, in my hometown of St. Albans, is now a jeweler but, before my time, it was my grandfather’s sweet shop. After the war chocolate was rationed and in short supply. My father used to tell stories of how his father sent him to Amsterdam to buy chocolate and then smuggle it back for the shop. The image is layered with sketches made when I first visited Amsterdam in 1986. These have been scanned, manipulated and mixed with a photo of the shop I took when I was last ‘home’.
One of the main themes in my work is to make connections between different times and cultures. New Zealand was still a terra incognita for me, but when I immersed myself in this subject a fascinating country with a unique nature and culture was revealed to me. As I drew, the magnolia flowers in my garden merged with the exceptional flora of the antipode. The Maori culture meets the comic heroes of my youth. Wonder Woman and Superman effortlessly sail into the picture in a waka. The Dutch province Zeeland is next to New Zealand and texts from Abel Tasman’s Journal are incorporated in the background.
Vivid patterns of small organic shapes, following a mathematical choreography, appear to dance in front of the eyes of the beholder. I create work based on numerical ranges, which I visualizes through computer-controlled drawing. The movement in the ‘New Zealand Print’ is constructed from a range of digital impulses while travelling. A self-developed drawing machine transfers the image from the digital world onto large lithographic stones and separate layers of colours can then be printed. Or I send the data to a ballpoint plotter, which draws directly on paper. It is this link between analogue and digital working which allows a dynamic image to emerge.
My work is intuitive – without a preconceived idea, tentatively daubing ink on the zinc plate I invite chance to play together with me…
If it’s alright – we tell a story together…
The poisonous spider, named Katipo, lives in New Zealand. In the Māori language, Katipo means ‘night biter.’
I live 10 minutes from the Wad (mud flats to the North of the Netherlands) and, like Abel Tasman, I was born there. I love the sinking water, the seabed rippling at low tide, the bubble-blowing mud and the gullies turning into paddles. Shrimps, fish and crabs swim here, and algae-covered stones provide a hiding place for the eelpout. Just below the sand you find cockles, clam worms and molluscs. At high tide, when the warm, foamy water rolls towards you, the hot sand cools down and that whole wonderful world disappears. In this landscape Tasman also grew up and dreamed of the sea, a dream that would eventually take him to New Zealand.
Art is a dialogue about possible ways we can navigate across time and distances. In this work I am having a conversation about the ways we leave home to discover new family, and new homes, and the means to express these ideas in ways not available to us had we remained where we started.
The print made for this exhibition uses found images of blue and white Chinese porcelain and delftware. Much of my work uses themes related to the Chinese diaspora, hybridity and cultural connections, so it seemed appropriate to use the detailed porcelain to illustrate East/West historical connections related to 18th century sea trade. While carving the woodblock I couldn’t help thinking of the artists/craftspeople who painted these designs with such fluidity and rhythm and whether they were copying other artists’ work or had developed their own patterns. It’s likely some of these motifs have been repeated for centuries.
One of the ways we first understand a new land is through its flora and fauna. Early explorers would gather specimens from foreign lands to take back home to study and classify. Some of these have become the symbols of those nations. Our geographical boundaries are now a lot less defined: religions, traditions, flora and fauna have travelled from their cultures of origin and populated other lands. We also use flowers and plants as a way of expressing love, thanks and condolences. I like how in this technological age we still look to nature to express our emotions.
I have created a series of works that explore the European heritage that is part of genealogical makeup of most New Zealanders. Using my recently uncovered maternal family tree, I explore themes of journeying, both physically across the world and chronologically through time, and the effect such journeying has on one’s sense of identity. I fashion these ideas into nostalgic cameos in which one’s present reality reconnects with the past and is re-evaluated. In so doing, I use my personal experiences of tracing and reviewing whakapapa to metaphorically reflect the blended bloodlines that flow through the veins of most New Zealanders.
I have always been aware of a kernel inside me, which is completely private. Something I cannot even name: a place of strangeness. I love travelling and often found in elusive foreign imagery a visual language that hinted at that inner mystery. In February 2019 I stayed in one of the cottages of Wharapuke Subtropical Gardens in New Zealand. I walked for hours through the thick foliage of the wild forest and felt as if I was slinking towards a metaphorical interior. Thus, a new series of mezzotints began: no longer trying to refer to the core, but instead exploring a way towards it.
With Google Earth I sometimes travel the earth and visit places that I may never visit in real life. Curious, about the islands of New Zealand, looking for interesting topography and landscapes, I saw mysterious white dots in a wooded mountain landscape in the north of the South Island! Are those natural erosions, man-made passages along the narrow roads through the forests, sacrificial sites, UFO remains…? It is not up to an artist to demystify them.
Perhaps it was a shift from an urban environment to a rural one that forced an uncomfortable confrontation with my natural surroundings. This is probably best explained by the weeds that spring up unannounced and grow vigorously in unfriendly places, but also the regrowth of native trees that sometimes struggle for sun, air, water and food. Attempts to cultivate and control have faded as my garden’s wilderness has become more enjoyable and rewarding. Despite my sporadic yearning for orderliness, it is the contrast between the northern and southern hemispheres that captivates me as we share the change of seasons, the velvety night sky, the growth of roadside blackberries, and the scent of things that only manifest at night.
Jose Van Tubergen
‘Her work is a search for legacy. Ruins and rituals tell the history of human beings with architecture or nature as background.’
Her work explores a record of mankind’s legacy: ancient walls, ruins, smeared and broken windows and doors, peeling walls and graffiti, created by the power and violence of people and nature. The transience is placed in another context and transformed into an abstract image.
The past is translated into the present.
A new history arises.
Eric van der Wal
The kiwi and the osier. When thinking about New Zealand my first thought was that, in addition to its natural beauty, it was the home to a strange, unique bird named kiwi. I used to make many linocuts of birds, and later those birds turned into clouds, which in turn became landscapes. I still make landscapes, but now I focus on details. Such as, for example, the osiers that are put into the dunes to break the wind and to capture the spraying sand. The feathering of the kiwi reminds me of those semi-decayed osiers in the dunes. This is how the circle closes.