The Coromandel Peninsula is in for a sensory treat with the “Lens Pens Paper Exhibition” that will open at the Driving Creek Railway Exhibition Gallery in Coromandel Town on Queen’s Birthday Weekend. The exhibition will run for three weeks through the new Matariki long weekend (24 to 26 June).
Three Mercury Bay artists and storytellers will use their completely distinctive art styles and mediums to present “three perspectives on our unique culture, natural environment, history and spirituality, and the stories and myths that connect us from the earth to the stars”.
“Lens” is embodied by Ian Preece, well known photographic artist, who will draw on the natural history of the Coromandel and wider New Zealand to focus on the work of various eco-sanctuaries such as the Mahakirau Forest Estate off the 309 Road; 600ha of private native forest. It is a protected “well spring” for rare New Zealand indigenous species of flora and fauna, including the endangered Archey's frog and the Coromandel striped gecko.
Through the exhibition, Ian is wanting to highlight the incredible work that is being done in these sanctuaries. He wants to show, in his words, “This aesthetic beauty to the world, particularly on the Coromandel, as we have some of the best forest, coastline and beaches in New Zealand.”
For Matariki, Ian will also feature various images of his amazing astral body of work, including a complete sequence of last year’s total lunar eclipse.
“Pens” will feature the fine ink drawings of Roimata Taimana. They represent his own experiences with his culture, his natural surroundings and his personal interactions as a youth mental health worker.
“I put as much of the natural world into my pieces as possible to stay connected with nature,” says Roimata. “Without nature we wouldn’t exist, but nature can exist without us. It exists for us to exist, so why is man in such a hurry to destroy it or control it? We should all be nurturing nature. This is my existence as an artist.”
Romaita adds that the exhibition’s connection to Matariki is special. “It has been so heartening in recent years to see more and more people - Māori and Pākehā alike - becoming interested in te ao Māori,” he says. “In all my works, I include a pictorial signature which is made up of a star cluster that looks a bit like the Pleiades… To be exhibiting at this time feels very special and very right.”
“Paper” will feature the works of paper artist and engineer, Phillip Fickling, who has been playing with paper since he was a young boy on rainy days in Seattle, USA. A three-time finalist in the Wallace Awards, most recently in 2021 with a work he named “Jonah and the Whale”, Phillip creates three-dimensional tableaus, paper models, one-off sculptures and pop-up designs, many with intricate functionality.
Phillip trained at the Art Institute of Seattle and was a designer and illustrator of three-dimensional products in the USA for over 15 years. In New Zealand, he has worked at Weta Studios and now works as a freelance designer and artist.
For Lens Pens Paper, Phillip is putting together a retrospective view of some of his personal works, several which have never been seen by the public, and some dating back to the 1980s. Although he is known mostly for his paper work, he will also be adding some of his early wooden pieces to the exhibition.
Ian says that the idea for this collaborative exhibition came to him over two years ago and that the Driving Creek gallery is “purpose built” for such an extended exhibition.
Pictured is ‘Twins’ by Roimata Taimana.