New Work by Erica van Zon at Jhana Millers Gallery, Wellington
Based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington, artist Erica van Zon draws inspiration from her experiences and her enchantment with elements of the world around her to create playful, crafty artworks – many depicting everyday objects. She has hand-embroidered or hand-beaded 10 petite new pieces, which hang in the gallery's foyer space against a lilac wall, some in colourful handmade frames. One piece features a distant Wellington Interislander ferry in blue and white, while another depicts a nail salon colour-sample display from a slightly disorienting bird’s eye view. There’s also a sixbar wrasse fish rendered in tiny glass beads, and a yellow embroidered bottle of Advocaat, a traditional Dutch liqueur. Joyful and charming, van Zon’s works are impressively intricate, with a good sense of humour to boot. Until March 11. Level 1, 85 Victoria Street, Te Aro, Wellington.
Whenua / Whenua: Wāhine Māori Artists at Tim Melville Gallery, Auckland
Seven Wāhine Māori artists are involved in this group exhibition, which explores the many subtle meanings of “whenua”, or land. In Māori tradition, whenua signifies the physical and spiritual connection between Papatūānuku (the Earth mother) and her people, who depend on her for survival and health. The word also means placenta – a source of nurturing and sustenance.
The first thing you see upon entry is two 2020 works that serve as a reminder of the beginning of the pandemic. Ngā Mihi is a joint painting by artists Hiria Anderson and Margaret Aull that depicts a masked child greeting his ancestors, while Margaret Aull’s Lockdown is a wall carving painted with stripes in those all-too-familiar black and yellow hazard tones. Elsewhere you’ll find Maraea Timutimu’s striking photographs of rocks collected from the waterways of her villages, stacked and abstracted against an inky black background. Raukura Turei’s signature deep-toned paintings use dots of onepū (black manganite sand from Paruroa, Cornwallis) to create mesmerising swathes of pattern and texture. All in all, the works highlight our relationship to land and nature, which is especially pertinent given the recent and ongoing calamities in Aotearoa. Tip: Check out the back gallery for additional artworks from the show, as well as new carved gourd sculptures by interdisciplinary artist Numa Mackenzie. Until March 18. 4 Winchester Street, Grey Lynn, Auckland.
The Equanimous Mind by Cindy Leong at Public Record, Auckland
For her debut exhibition, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland-born artist Cindy Leong reflects on mindfulness and composure – important principles of Buddhism and Taoism. Of Malaysian and Chinese ancestry, Leong is inspired by the ancient rites and rituals associated with her meditation practice.
As you make your way through the front viewing room of Ponsonby store Public Record to the rear gallery space, you’ll be struck by the contemplative nature of Leong’s artworks – and how time-consuming they must be to create. She often works with repetitive dots and textures. A large rice paper wall-hanging shows rows of tiny, methodical incense burns that lightly perfume the air. Seeing the intricacies in person, you’ll understand the discipline and restraint the artist has applied to each piece. Leong also uses oil paint. Here, her patient, deliberate brushstrokes result in a textured, earthen effect. This exhibition has a calming and thoughtful presence; a reminder of the need for stillness in a frenetic world. Until February 26. 76 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, Auckland.
Noise Collector by Suji Park at The Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt
Artist Suji Park builds her own world in her new solo exhibition at The Dowse. A South Korean-born New Zealander, Park deals with themes of identity and migration in her work – specifically the idea that we are all multifaceted, evolving beings.
She uses clay, resin, paint, LED lights, plastic and foam to create fascinating, misshapen curiosities. In a large gallery space with dark painted walls, some of the pieces are suspended from the ceiling, others displayed on carefully placed wooden stands and shelving. The devil is in the details, with mysterious hidden elements that warrant another look. Each stand or shelf is laden with fragments, objects and epic creations. Park often makes, breaks and remakes her pieces, further lending to the sense of a fragmented, journeying self. Until April 2. 45 Laings Road, Lower Hutt.
Anita Tótha is an art consultant working between New York and Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.