Plenty of ro0m for everyone

Gisborne ground-breakers at NZ Art Fair

Gisborne ground-breakers at NZ Art Fair

RICHARD: Gisborne artist Jason Courtis’s (roOm) 1060mm x 790mm macrophotograph, Richard, was part of a collection of pieces he exhibited at the recent NZ Art Show. One of roOm’s pieces was nominated as one of the 10 people’s choices.
CONTEMPLATIVE: Gisborne artist Holly Thomas’s Never by blue was among the collection of abstract works she exhibited at the recent NZ Art Show in Wellington.
RICH AND DARK: Gisborne florist Holly Tong and photographer Runa Kuru’s works exhibited at the NZ Art Show included their collaborative work, Lucent.

“I stole Holly’s Lego pieces and poured paint over them,” says artist Jason Courtis of the dirty, marked plastic blocks from his partner’s childhood.

Shot in high resolution, and in extreme close-up — a process known as macrophotography — against a jet black backdrop, the image creates a language of its own.

Courtis, otherwise known as roOm was one of four Gisborne artists who recently exhibited, and sold, their work at the NZ Art Show in Wellington. More than 10,500 visited the show at the TSB Arena, and they bought artworks worth collectively more than $1.3 million — a record in the show’s 16-year history.

Among the 1500 new artworks that now grace the walls of homes around New Zealand, and even as far away as San Francisco, are pieces by the Gisborne artists including roOm.

Courtis’s macrophotographs bring two questions to mind: it sculpture or photography? And, how is it we haven’t seen these works before?

“It’s definitely about the photograph,” says Courtis.

“I have two types of photography I’m interested in. One is night shots — urban landscapes at night, I set scenes in urban landscapes.”

As a firefighter with the Gisborne emergency service Courtis and his colleagues encounter a good deal of social hardship in their job, including homelessness. Courtis explored that theme last year in his photography.

“I put a light in a chair in not the nicest places and take a picture.”

Taxidermied animals, or animal parts, such as the head of deer, featured among the night-time photographs. In an outdoor setting at night Courtis poured gold paint over the deer’s head then photographed it.

“It takes away from what you normally expect. I was looking at species introduced to New Zealand and that are damaging to flora and fauna so I grabbed a deer head and took it into a night scene.”

The other type of photography he explores is macrophotography. Another piece features more Lego but, cloaked in stripes of paua-shell nacre-like blues, greens and mauve, the form looks almost nun-like but with a truncated arm. It’s at once sensual, abstract and humorous with a hint of darkness (literally). It’s accessible but difficult to define.

Before the repurposed Lego pieces and the stuffed animals, though, were soft toys. The first series the artist explored with running paint were teddy bears.

He talks wistfully of “the way running paint works on a static object”.

“The way it works . . .”

And so to the other big question: how is it we haven’t seen these works before?

“I keep it low key. I want the work to be about the work, not me.”

Having said that he enjoyed the network and the contact he had with artists in the NZ Art Show.

“About 10,000 or so people pass through over three days. They’re looking at art work, you’re around other creatives. There’s a lot of networking between artists, you get connections, you’re getting your ideas out there.”

Holly Thomas

Courtis and his partner Holly Thomas got to share a corner to exhibit their work on adjacent walls at the NZ Art Show.

“We’re like this cute couple,” says Courtis.

“Holly is the reason I got into art. As long as I’ve known her she’s been a painter.”

After a short stint as a practising artist in Nelson, Thomas decided to train as an art teacher. Then she had a change of heart. She left teacher training college to study art at the Learning Connexion.

Courtis was already attending art classes there on his days off fire service work. When Thomas completed her studies she landed a job at the Learning Connexion, stayed for another 10 years and got on to the management team.

Now the cute couple are living, working and bringing up two children in Gisborne and Thomas, an abstract artist, still manages to make space to paint.

“Painting is a labour of love. Sunday is my zone-out time,” she says.

“My work is quite seasonal. In winter my work might be more moody with darker tones. The ones I created in the lead-up to the show came out of summer. They have airy tones and earthy tones and are quite spacious.

“I like to have some space for people to contemplate. There’s a lot of busyness in our lives so I quite like to slow that down a bit.”

Those airy and earthy tones and spaciousness are seen in Thomas’s painting, Never by blue, one of the works she exhibited at the art show. Free of mass or solidity, the free line, the sense

of spaciousness between the soft blue, rounded forms and glimpse of teal invokes a sense of calm.

When I start a work I have ideas,” says Thomas.

“I describe it as a conversation; it evolves as I go.”

A common motif in her work is the crown, which represents the artist, and the eye, which represents the viewer. These can also be seen in Never by blue.

“The paintings are a conversation between me and people looking at my work.”

This year was the fourth time Thomas has exhibited at the NZ Art Show.

“I got great feedback, lots of positivity. Selling work is the greatest endorsement. I’d rather have people love the work and take it home with them than have it sit in the studio.

“The freedom for people to buy a piece of art they love is so important.”

Holly Tong and Runa Kuru

The still life genre of oil painting that emerged during the Dutch and Flemish Renaissance in the 16th century was the inspiration for Gisborne florist Holly Tong and photographer Runa Kuru whose collaborative works were also among the 1500 pieces from around the country.

Among the duo’s collection was Volucris, a high definition, 1650 x 1100 photograph that depicts a tangle of living and fading flowers merging with blackness. Volucris translates into English as a flying, or winged creature. The moody botanical work Cor Meum, composed largely of an arrangement of roses, peonies, lupin and strawflower and blackness, also featured.

A print of Cor Meum appeared on Gisborne couple Stu Watts and Amy Moore’s wall in TV reality show The Block last year. Works with rich titles such as Lucent, Fluit, Velvet, Imbue made up the rest of the collection.

“We had few pieces up in our stall and almost sold out,” says Kuru.

“It was a great experience. We were very impressed with the show. It was such a well-organised event. They looked after the artists and the guests beautifully.”

Recent works by Tong and Kuru can be seen at Matawhero Wines. These have a lighter background, says Kuru.

“We’ve tried a light background before but this time we set the arrangements in a milky bath. They came out really lovely.”

“I stole Holly’s Lego pieces and poured paint over them,” says artist Jason Courtis of the dirty, marked plastic blocks from his partner’s childhood.

Shot in high resolution, and in extreme close-up — a process known as macrophotography — against a jet black backdrop, the image creates a language of its own.

Courtis, otherwise known as roOm was one of four Gisborne artists who recently exhibited, and sold, their work at the NZ Art Show in Wellington. More than 10,500 visited the show at the TSB Arena, and they bought artworks worth collectively more than $1.3 million — a record in the show’s 16-year history.

Among the 1500 new artworks that now grace the walls of homes around New Zealand, and even as far away as San Francisco, are pieces by the Gisborne artists including roOm.

Courtis’s macrophotographs bring two questions to mind: it sculpture or photography? And, how is it we haven’t seen these works before?

“It’s definitely about the photograph,” says Courtis.

“I have two types of photography I’m interested in. One is night shots — urban landscapes at night, I set scenes in urban landscapes.”

As a firefighter with the Gisborne emergency service Courtis and his colleagues encounter a good deal of social hardship in their job, including homelessness. Courtis explored that theme last year in his photography.

“I put a light in a chair in not the nicest places and take a picture.”

Taxidermied animals, or animal parts, such as the head of deer, featured among the night-time photographs. In an outdoor setting at night Courtis poured gold paint over the deer’s head then photographed it.

“It takes away from what you normally expect. I was looking at species introduced to New Zealand and that are damaging to flora and fauna so I grabbed a deer head and took it into a night scene.”

The other type of photography he explores is macrophotography. Another piece features more Lego but, cloaked in stripes of paua-shell nacre-like blues, greens and mauve, the form looks almost nun-like but with a truncated arm. It’s at once sensual, abstract and humorous with a hint of darkness (literally). It’s accessible but difficult to define.

Before the repurposed Lego pieces and the stuffed animals, though, were soft toys. The first series the artist explored with running paint were teddy bears.

He talks wistfully of “the way running paint works on a static object”.

“The way it works . . .”

And so to the other big question: how is it we haven’t seen these works before?

“I keep it low key. I want the work to be about the work, not me.”

Having said that he enjoyed the network and the contact he had with artists in the NZ Art Show.

“About 10,000 or so people pass through over three days. They’re looking at art work, you’re around other creatives. There’s a lot of networking between artists, you get connections, you’re getting your ideas out there.”

Holly Thomas

Courtis and his partner Holly Thomas got to share a corner to exhibit their work on adjacent walls at the NZ Art Show.

“We’re like this cute couple,” says Courtis.

“Holly is the reason I got into art. As long as I’ve known her she’s been a painter.”

After a short stint as a practising artist in Nelson, Thomas decided to train as an art teacher. Then she had a change of heart. She left teacher training college to study art at the Learning Connexion.

Courtis was already attending art classes there on his days off fire service work. When Thomas completed her studies she landed a job at the Learning Connexion, stayed for another 10 years and got on to the management team.

Now the cute couple are living, working and bringing up two children in Gisborne and Thomas, an abstract artist, still manages to make space to paint.

“Painting is a labour of love. Sunday is my zone-out time,” she says.

“My work is quite seasonal. In winter my work might be more moody with darker tones. The ones I created in the lead-up to the show came out of summer. They have airy tones and earthy tones and are quite spacious.

“I like to have some space for people to contemplate. There’s a lot of busyness in our lives so I quite like to slow that down a bit.”

Those airy and earthy tones and spaciousness are seen in Thomas’s painting, Never by blue, one of the works she exhibited at the art show. Free of mass or solidity, the free line, the sense

of spaciousness between the soft blue, rounded forms and glimpse of teal invokes a sense of calm.

When I start a work I have ideas,” says Thomas.

“I describe it as a conversation; it evolves as I go.”

A common motif in her work is the crown, which represents the artist, and the eye, which represents the viewer. These can also be seen in Never by blue.

“The paintings are a conversation between me and people looking at my work.”

This year was the fourth time Thomas has exhibited at the NZ Art Show.

“I got great feedback, lots of positivity. Selling work is the greatest endorsement. I’d rather have people love the work and take it home with them than have it sit in the studio.

“The freedom for people to buy a piece of art they love is so important.”

Holly Tong and Runa Kuru

The still life genre of oil painting that emerged during the Dutch and Flemish Renaissance in the 16th century was the inspiration for Gisborne florist Holly Tong and photographer Runa Kuru whose collaborative works were also among the 1500 pieces from around the country.

Among the duo’s collection was Volucris, a high definition, 1650 x 1100 photograph that depicts a tangle of living and fading flowers merging with blackness. Volucris translates into English as a flying, or winged creature. The moody botanical work Cor Meum, composed largely of an arrangement of roses, peonies, lupin and strawflower and blackness, also featured.

A print of Cor Meum appeared on Gisborne couple Stu Watts and Amy Moore’s wall in TV reality show The Block last year. Works with rich titles such as Lucent, Fluit, Velvet, Imbue made up the rest of the collection.

“We had few pieces up in our stall and almost sold out,” says Kuru.

“It was a great experience. We were very impressed with the show. It was such a well-organised event. They looked after the artists and the guests beautifully.”

Recent works by Tong and Kuru can be seen at Matawhero Wines. These have a lighter background, says Kuru.

“We’ve tried a light background before but this time we set the arrangements in a milky bath. They came out really lovely.”

Your email address will not be published. Comments will display after being approved by a staff member. Comments may be edited for clarity.

Poll

  • Voting please wait...
    Your vote has been cast. Reloading page...
    Do you like the new committee structure brought in at Gisborne District Council?

    See also: Committee shake-up