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Art Escape 2023 - thank you... for the enrichment of art and soul

New Zealand famous artist exhibits

Michael Smither, New Zealand’s most celebrated artist (pictured on the front page of last weeks The Informer) was an exhibitor as part of Art Escape 2023. As well as his outstanding and compelling works of art reflecting everyday life, Michael is an environmentalist and a musician and composer. For Art Escape 2023, some of his works were exhibited at the Waterways offices off Joan Gaskell Drive. Michael is noted for his works in a variety of media - oils, acrylics, and screenprint - and on a variety of subjects. Domestic life is a major theme as is nature particularly of Taranaki, where he grew up as a boy. In the 1960s, Michael worked with his father, Bill Smither, producing many different screenprints. Screenprinting was not considered an "art" then. However, after many years away from screen printing, Michael produces modestly priced screen prints alongside his paintings which continue to fetch high prices in art auctions. Michael set the record for the most expensive painting sold that was painted by a living New Zealand artist, when his 1967 painting entitled, Sea Wall and Kingfisher sold for $342,000 in October 2019. Michael had his first exhibition in the early 60’s and despite experiencing a minor stroke in 2014 and suffering from shingles, Michael Smither continues to paint and has no plans to stop anytime soon.

"I would rather die with my brush in my hand or boots on or whatever you like to call it. There's no attraction to me in the idea of retiring and going on long holidays overseas and stuff like that. To me, I've always had to have a quotient of art involved in whatever it is I am doing. It's either music or painting or sculpture or environmental efforts."

It was a privilege to have Coromandel Peninsula’s Michael Smither among us for these two weekends of Art Escape that enables so much goodwill through Art to be available to the populace - locals and visitors.

Three Tairua artists new to Art Escape:

by Pam Ferla

Vivienne Cory-Wright grew up in Tairua and has painted as long as she can remember. “Growing up in a small town, we used to create our own fun and hobbies and I was also encouraged by local artist Ruth Lee who was my primary teacher. I started doing ceramics about ten years ago because it’s much easier to do smaller projects when you have your children around you. I love bright colours and found that they leaned towards a Mexican theme. I also love Mexican cooking and my kids have Mexican blood in them.” Vivienne attended art college as an adult and has encouraged young people through her time with children creating murals at schools, including Tairua. She says she enjoyed sharing her work and her colourful garden with visitors to the Art Escape. She holds ‘paint your own ceramics’ events at her studio in Tairua. For more information check out vivart_aotearoa.

Kaylee Finis has been painting since childhood and has always had a passion for photography. “It’s a way for me to capture and show people how I see the world,” says this Canadian born surfer who moved to New Zealand five years ago. After moving from mountainous country down to Hawaii, Kaylee found the ocean a new subject for her creativity. Her painting currently displayed at Hot Waves Café shows her love of the ocean. She used blacklight paint under acrylic, thus giving a different perspective when viewed at night. Kaylee enjoyed sharing her new art studio with visitors and showing them her creations during the past two open studio weekends. Her studio will also be open during Easter weekend. If you want to see her work, check out Instagram@surferscolouringbook.

Jennifer Panther has only been painting for the past 18 months! She retired to Tairua after a corporate life and then looked around for something to do. “I started by painting a couple of boats because I like their shape,” she says. “Then I moved on to doing scenery and things around Tairua as well as flowers.” Jennifer sold “quite a few” paintings over the Art Escape weekends and felt very encouraged by those who visited.She enjoys being part of Tairua Art Group and has displayed and sold her works in The Little Gallery in Tairua. Jennifer’s work can be viewed on Instagram


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