Exhibition By NorthTec Tutors Celebrates Women

2 November 2021

Exhibition By NorthTec Tutors Celebrates Women

Visible is a new exhibition opens at the Shutter Room this week: portraits and words from over 120 of our women who work in the ‘arts’.

Over the last few years, NorthTec Tutors - photographer Ellie Smith and writer Zana Bell - have been researching the life of working artist Adele Younghusband in 1920s Whangārei. This has developed into a project that photographed 126 of our working women artists, a hundred years later, and in her old photographic studio on Bank St.

Come in a view their exhibition ‘Visible’ at the Shutter Room Gallery (at the back of the Old Library, Rust Ave, Whangārei) from Thursday 03 November until Friday 26 November.

Visible - an exhibition that makes visible women working across the arts in Whangarei
The purpose of Art is not to render the visible but to render visible: Paul Klee

But what about ‘artists’ themselves – those working in diverse ways in the arts? Are they visible? And if so, for how long? These questions arose while Ellie Smith and Zana Bell were researching painter and photographer Adele Younghusband and her years in Whangarei (1920-1927). So little of her life beyond her paintings and photographs survives. Ghost references to other women working in the arts in 1920s proved likewise ephemeral. This invisibility led to questions about women working in the arts in Whangarei today. How many are there? What do they do? How do they define themselves? This exhibition is to render them visible.

In celebration of Adele, photographs of Whangarei women working across the arts were taken in Adele’s photographic studio on the top floor of the Butter Factory, Bank Street. These women were also invited to define themselves in relation to their art practices as well as to share some of their thoughts around the business of being an artist.

These photographic sessions became events in themselves; conversations erupting in the stairwell just as they would have done when the members of the nascent Whangarei Art and Literary Society met monthly in Adele’s studio. Women swapped experiences and swapped business cards. Who knew there were so many women working in so many different artistic practices!