Monday, 19 August 2019

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Alishia Falleni - from Mercury Bay to New York

A solo art exhibition by former Mercury Bay local, Alishia Falleni, will open at The Bishop Gallery in Brooklyn, New York on Friday this week (19 July).

The week-long exhibition is called “A Version of Paradise” and will feature nine paintings of street corners, public parks, subway stations and other city scenes from Brooklyn to Upper Manhattan.

Alishia grew up in Matarangi, where her parents still live. She attended Te Rerenga Primary School and Mercury Bay Area School. In 2000, she moved to Auckland to initially work as a florist, before qualifying as a hairdresser.

In 2011, Alishia moved to Australia and began working in 2016 at The Front Yard, a hair salon and art gallery on the Gold Coast. The front Yard was the venue of her first art exhibition, also in 2016.

Alishia was always passionate about painting. “I would like to credit my MBAS art teacher, Janet Hoogwerf, with much of my initial development as an artist,” she says. “I was diagnosed with clinical depression following a series of failed ear operations over a period of five years and it was a combination of painting and exercise that gave me a renewed sense of purpose and direction.

“For me, painting isn’t just a hobby, it’s also a salvation.”

The development of Alishia’s style of painting into her own version of modern impressionism was significantly influenced by celebrated New Zealand artist, Colin McCahon’s marriage of landscape and overlay.

Alishia primarily works with oil paint on timber. Coromandel landscapes featured prominently in her earlier work.

“My work is overlaid with an aerosol bird stencil, representing my message, ‘What sets you free?’” says Aleshia.

Aleshia’s fiancé is a DJ. Two years ago, Aleshia accompanied him on one of his regular trips to New York. During her three-week stay in the city, she was introduced to a well-connected music venue owner who undertook to make mention of her on the New York emerging artists’ scene.

“The Bishop Gallery owners showed interest in my work and for the past two years I’ve been preparing for A Version of Paradise,” says Alishia. “I chose New York, but not the New York you see in the glossy brochures, as my theme for the exhibition because of the city’s charm and bustle. There’s no escaping from the fact that it’s a city that’s being lived in.”

The Bishop Gallery aims to provide both established and emerging artists with an exhibition space where artists can connect with their audience in an expanding Brooklyn arts scene. According to the gallery owners, Erwin John and Stevenson Dunn, art can be a catalyst for inciting conversations about change and development, and they want to be a venue where ideas that can bring about change, happens.

Alishia will be donating five per cent of the proceeds of A Version of Paradise to Brooklyn Community Services to raise awareness of people suffering from depression and mental illness. “I don’t talk much about my own struggles and attempt to help others by giving back,” says Alishia.

Pictured: A solo exhibition of artworks by former Mercury Bay Area School student, Alishia Falleni, will open in Brooklyn, New York on Friday this week.

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