Social history to the fore at MTG

With artist Yuki Kihara’s exhibition now over and the next art installation another month away, social history has come to the fore at MTG. And yet, art continues to enrich spaces throughout the museum.

Catching the light in the front foyer is Israel Birch’s work ‘Tai Aroha.’ Working with stainless steel pigmented with rich shades of blue, Birch has ground and etched fluid patterns that shimmer all over the surface, creating the effect of flowing water. Birch describes his technique as a new form of carving, where “carving is about the shaping of light.” His work is placed just around the corner from a poutokomanawa (carved ancestral figure) of Birch’s ancestor Te Kāuru o Te Rangi, who has long been a source of inspiration for him.

‘Tai Aroha’ will remain in place for another month before the entire wall that it hangs on becomes a platform for the artwork of Natalie Robertson. We are pleased to host Natalie’s project as part of Hastings City Art Gallery’s biennial ‘EAST’ exhibition, which is extending beyond the gallery’s walls for the first time this year to become a region-wide event.

Artist George Nuku will create collaborative art displays at both institutions in the form of installations titled ‘Bottled River’ and ‘Bottled Ocean’: addressing the degradation of fresh and salt water respectively.

Meanwhile, recent additions within the exhibition ‘Tēnei Tonu’ include an assemblage of five diverse artworks. A painting by renowned weaver Toi Te Rito Maihi of methodically woven harakeke, stylised into perfect precision, hangs above works by Joan Trollope, Para Matchitt, Gary Waldrom, and Jacob Scott. These collection pieces were chosen for their connections to Ngāti Kahungunu, either through the artists’ whakapapa or the subjects shown in the work.

Trollope’s painting of ‘Tomato Pickers’ is particularly intriguing, as we know the least about the artist and her work. She painted this evocative scene in a rustic cubist style, using quick brushstrokes to sketch out solid figures working in the heat of a Hawke’s Bay summer. But if she was painting from a real scene, whereabouts is it, and who are the people depicted? And who was Joan Trollope? The only information on the artwork’s museum record is her lifetime dates (1914-1996), and an estimation of 1959 for the date of the painting. She contributed a landscape work to an outdoor exhibition shown in both Hastings and Napier in 1960. The only other mention of her I can find is in a programme for the 1964 exhibition of ‘The Group’ in Christchurch, which included five paintings by Trollope along with works by Angus, McCahon, Lusk, Henderson, Woollaston, Binney and many more leading figures in Pākehā art of the time. It would be wonderful to hear from anyone who knows more about Joan Trollope or of other works of hers that must be hanging on walls somewhere.

  • CMNZ Presents: Heath Quartet. Thrilling audiences with their dynamic and charismatic performances, the Heath Quartet are one of Britain’s most exciting chamber ensembles. Century Theatre, Sunday 24 June, 5:00pm. Tickets available from Ticketek.

16 June 2018

Image caption: OBSCURE ARTIST: ‘Tomato Pickers’ by Joan Trollope, painted circa 1959.

Jess Mio, Curator – Art

Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 16th June 2018



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