Uptown Art Scene

Starting the new decade with a visit to our local community art centre, Studio One Toi Tu, reassures me of the rich, diverse viewpoints our community is comprised of.

The young women’s stories are succinct and touching. When asked what she thinks about, Allyssa says, “ I think a lot about climate change, about Samoa. It hurts. There’s this new word that’s been created, solastalgia, it means the genuine pain of losing the homeland due to climate change. I think about it a lot; some days I think about it and get a huge pain in my chest.”

The 18x18 exhibition is produced by Verity Johnson, Susanne Axelsson and Coco Janssen (also 18-years-old) for the YWCA which has been an advocate of female development for 140 years. The project is viewable online 18x18.co.nz

In another of the building’s galleries, Louis Bretana has assembled sculpture, jewellery and weaving into an installation that evokes the Philippine deities that existed before Christianity arrived from Spain. Golden brown woven mats covert the room to a warmly lit shrine, with bowls of rice offerings and towering carved stone symbols hung from the roof.

Through to the next gallery where prints made of collaged images appear bright as stained glass windows, each depicting ‘Woman of Valour’. Naomi Azoulay has worked historical and pop references into saint-like portraits to undermine the religious iconography they’re based on.

There are similarities in those densely built images with Timothy Clarke’s work in the fourth gallery. He takes us on a tour of Ponsonby buildings and landmarks, stacked together in a pleasant jumble of facades and familiar names: Leys Institute, The Women’s Centre, the Gluepot, SPQR…

As I left Studio One Toi Tu, I was gladly distracted from the bubbling traffic on Ponsonby Road by some humorous paintings by Helen Dowling and Priscilla Kinnaird in the Sidewalk Gallery which shows onto the street. I wandered off full of other people’s stories – what a good start to the decade.,(Evan Woodruffe/Studio Art Supplies)

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