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April 2, 2007 | by  | in Visual Arts |
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Lynda Nelson and Whare Taramoeroa

Vincents Art Workshop
Level 4, 84 Willis Street
March 21 to April 4

Vincents Art Workshop, tucked away on Willis Street near The Dominion Post, is a special place. Having been around for 21 years it is Wellington’s oldest public art space. Many people have their own reasons for going to Vincents. Some are getting on with their lives, others suffer hardships like mental illness, some are just looking for something different to do with their spare time and all of them have a desire to express themselves creatively.

Currently there is a joint exhibition with two long time Vincents community members. Lynda Nelson has been coming to Vincents since 1987. Her works are a mixture of acrylic and oil paintings and mixed media works. Whare Taramoeroa is a regular participant at Vincents and a committee member. Her Maori heritage is a major inspiration for her artworks. Her exhibition also features a number of masks, which she created for people to wear on the Vincents float in the Cuba Street Carnival Night Parade in February. Nelson uses art to help motivate her. Having previously created only for her own personal pleasure, Vincents has given her the confidence and opportunity to exhibit the things in her life.

One simple image held my attention while I was talking to her. Last One In’s a Rotten Fish (right, above) is very simple and child-like in its level of technique, but is so beautiful. It is an orange sunset with seagulls flying above a coastline. Some people who don’t appreciate innocence and romantism will think this is a crap painting. They are the thinkers; I am a feeler and Lynda Nelson has such a pure heart that she puts to canvas.

Whare Taramoeroa also has a lot of heart. Her work Te Karere (the messenger) (right, below) was inspired by her father who fought in World War II. It features a Kereru flying amongst crimson red flames with the words Te Karere, ANZAC, Etuhakawhitu WWI and WWII.

It is like a phoenix rising from the ashes representing her family’s involvement in war.

Taramoeroa also experiments with glass and other objects as does Nelson, with an artist by the name of Paul Smith demonstrating such techniques as soldering glass to the painting.

Masks also feature in Taramoeroa’s works, with a real wearable art theme coming trhough. She loves celebrating the love, pomp and things that come from having a good party. Made specifically for the Cuba Street Carnival street parade they blend lots of cultural influences with materials as diverse as flax and feathers.

Themes are not limited to the usual Maori and Pasifika cultural cliché. Europen cultures are also represented, “I’m also going on about our British culture. All the early tribes that landed on our tribes such as the Celtic, Scottish and Saxon heritage.”

One final work that Taramoeroa showed me had a wallop of emotional impact. Titled Send In The Clowns it is based on the 1973 ballad by Stephen Sondheim. In addition to a 3D wood chip clown face held together by lots of PVA, it quotes the powerful lyric:

“Isn’t it rich, aren’t we a pair. Me here at last on the ground, you in the clowns. Isn’t it bliss don’t you approve. One who keeps tearing around one who can’t move. Where are the clowns? Send in the clowns.”

What makes Vincents gallery so special is the fact that when you come out you feel so uplifted. You can contrast this with some other gallery openings, where you feel you are being judged rather than the art. There are no hipsters at Vincents Art Workshop, no fashion, no pretense, no social masks, no limitations, only open hearts and acceptance of all who enter without judgement.

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