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“Twenty years ago I had the idea to open a gallery but I put it aside until now. I opened the MD Gallery in downtown Whangarei mid-2017, and for me it’s all about curating. I’ve been curating since I was a child. I worked as a florist and taught floristry for 15 years but I wanted to curate art. Deciding to do my degree in applied arts was a real turning point for me.
“Committing to that study gave me the opportunity to contemplate things that mattered to me and gave me the confidence to rediscover what I was good at. The tutors were practising artists themselves with solid reputations and they were beyond dedicated in sharing their wealth of knowledge and experience. When I finished the degree in 2014 I went into recovery mode for a while then I entered the Corban’s Art Awards and won second place in the sculpture section. That re-awoke my creativity.
“At around that time I started work at The Shutter Room as a curator and was there for a couple of years. I exhibited some of my own photograms (photos made without a camera) and installations there. The transition from The Shutter Room to running my own gallery was prompted by turning 50. It was an ‘if not now…when’ moment so I started looking for premises and found this high-foot-traffic site in Rust Ave. Over 2 years on and I am still loving it."
“I curate both group and solo shows here, mostly for Whangarei artists, ranging from emerging to established. There’s been a gap in Whangarei for a fine art gallery space and I’m now providing that space. I’m into making connections between the viewer and artist, and showing viewers how to hang a mix of photographs, paintings and prints together.
"Looking forward now, I aim to build my client base locally, nationally and internationally."
I have learnt so much from coming here that it doesn’t matter so much whether I become an artist or not. I’d like to...
“I’ve wanted to study art since loving it at school but I went into hospitality then I realized it wasn’t quite it for me. My Dad is great at art and it’s in our family line. I wanted to make it more than a hobby in my life. Taking out a student loan was a big commitment step, plus I live 45 minutes away so I catch a bus down here three days a week.”
“The best part of the course is learning about the history behind art. There’s so much I didn’t know about and we go back further in time and look at things more broadly than I expected. I’m also loving the etching, woodcuts and screen prints and I hadn’t done graphics before. I’m not into the technology so that’s more of a challenge for me but it’s part of the course and the tutors help you with that.”
“We have a surprising number of trips off-campus to studios and galleries that broaden our outlook, and visiting artists come and tell us their stories and processes.”
“At the start of our course everyone tended to work on their own but we now work together more and bounce ideas off each other. I also like mixing it up with students from other faculties. I like where the conversations go.”
“I have learnt so much from coming here that it doesn’t matter so much whether I become an artist or not. I’d like to become an artist but I realize it feels more about what I’ve learnt on the way on every level. I feel blessed to be here and to be having this experience.”
I established my career as a teacher at Whangarei Intermediate School because of my arts training and background...
“I established my career as a teacher at Whangarei Intermediate School because of my arts training and background. Creativity and performing arts are really appreciated here. I was relieving at W.I.S in 2013 then was offered permanent full-time work in 2014.”
“I am primarily a performing artist and after doing a pre-entry Applied Arts course (drama) followed by a Diploma in Applied Arts (drama), I went overseas for nine years working in the creative arts, mostly performing as a musician but I was also involved in painting and other artistic pursuits. After returning to New Zealand as a single mum, I completed my B.A. (Bachelor of Applied Arts - Visual) at NorthTec.”
“I loved it because I was in my core environment and surrounded by creativity. The course taught me professionalism and perseverance, how to take my art seriously, to market myself, and to work in collaboration with others. I also further learned how to be humble being in the presence of so much talent.”
“To add value to my arts degree, I then did a post-grad course in teaching at Victoria University which fortunately led to my first relieving teacher job here. I continue to gig in town every weekend and I really love my work teaching at Whangarei Intermediate School. I think the kids enjoy the fact that I do a range of different creative things.”
“The ultimate dream job for me would be simply to play music all day, paint and make art - like I did in Canada. But at the moment I enjoy putting my focus on the kids here, encouraging and inspiring them to be themselves, learn and create.”
Once I started on the professional study track with art, there was carry-over into other areas of my life. I took my...
“Doing the Applied Arts degree gave me confidence in my own art and a context for art’s place in the world. I did the course part time while I was working and had family, and since graduating, my art practice has continued to evolve and diversify.”
“I had always wanted to get a degree but left New Zealand at 16 years old then returned to work in commercial art and magazine publishing for 20 years. This involved production, administration and advertising.”
“When I made the commitment to do my degree, I started in ceramics then got known for glass. I have been a finalist in the Wallace Art Awards four times and the Ranamok Glass Prize three times amongst other awards. Once I started on the professional study track with art, there was carry-over into other areas of my life. I took my creative work more seriously, lifted my game, gained confidence and learnt to diversify.”
“Since graduating I continue to move on multiple creative fronts. A pleasing new development is an opportunity to get back into graphic design as Graphic Designer and International Production Manager on a contract basis for a magazine based in Australia.”
“I have an upcoming exhibition in Whangarei that involves abstract digital print and video works. I had two solo shows in 2016 - one in Auckland and one in Nelson - and in 2018 I have a sculpture, collage and print exhibition in Kerikeri.”
“My arts degree has given me a sense of direction with my art and the confidence to just get out there and do it.”
“I have gained so much from my time at NorthTec. I've developed as an artist, I'm able to give back to my family and...
The NorthTec arts degree programme opened many doors for Katarina, and since graduating these doors have just kept on opening. She has participated in international indigenous art workshops and is involved with top level Māori artists helping set up future Te Tai Tokerau-based workshops.
“Study at a tertiary level I thought was for other people, but as a grandmother of nine I felt it was time, to study art. Now here I am - a degree graduate.”
Katarina began at NorthTec with a foundation course for six months. “That progressed into studying Māori arts, and then a move across to the Bachelor in Applied Arts. I chose to specialise in photography at level 5. At that point I didn’t even know how to turn a camera on, so when the tutors told me how well I had done after assessment, I was in tears.
“To me the reward in studying is less to do with career, and more about being able to give back and encourage my family and community.
“I have gained so much from my time at NorthTec, including the opportunity to develop as an artist and make contacts including indigenous artists from around the world. Now I’m an active participant in a vibrant Māori arts community.”
“Follow what spins your wheels. Life’s too short to make sacrifices.”
Kim Logue has a fascination for glass and ceramics that has led her to working in obsidian. “I finished my degree in applied arts in 2012 and haven’t stopped since. After I finished my, I travelled to India for three months and the journey unfolded in front of me.”
“In India, I did a wood-fired ceramics course at the Golden Bridge Pottery in Pondicherry where the American tutor there knew Richard Parker, a NorthTec tutor here. From there I travelled around visiting different galleries and artists in their studios.”
Kim has had her work accepted for several major art competitions including the Wallace Art Awards, the Gold Award in Otago, the Northland Art Awards, the Waiheke Small Sculpture Award and twice for Ranamok – Australasia’s premier glass competition.
Kim - “I was lucky enough to work as an intern for Maureen Cahill who is the co-founder of Ranamok and also owns The Glass Artists Gallery in Sydney. I’m back and forward to Australia at the moment exhibiting work there as well as getting to check out other exhibitions like the Sydney Biennale.”
“Because I work with obsidian, I’m constantly pushing boundaries and experimenting, which suits me perfectly. I use tools, in particular the saw, as icons to encourage discussion about the deforestation of NZ Kauri Forests and to raise questions about the price of ‘progress’. The saw is a metaphor for both destruction and construction, while the fragility of glass references the balance between the two.
Kim is also Artist-in-Residence at the Kerikeri NorthTec campus. “I get to interact with the students, they see how I work, plus I get to use the kiln. In my degree course there, I loved having the freedom to follow my own line of enquiry. We were encouraged to play and experiment and the tutors then supported you with their immense knowledge.”
“Richard Parker, the ceramics tutor, also encourages students to enter exhibitions and awards so you get familiar with that process, plus you learn to deal with rejection without taking it personally or letting it stop you in your tracks. The tutors equip us with good practices so when that you finish your training, you’re right on the ball and ready to go.”
And Kim is still going for it. “I’ve given myself 2-3 years to get established. Finances are a challenge for artists but I love my work so I’m prepared to sacrifice my standard of living in order to do it. I love challenging myself with the materials I am using. There is so much out there to learn and so many people doing great stuff. At the moment I’m saying say yes to opportunities that come up. The fluidity of this work suits my nature and I love it.”
Read more about NorthTec's Arts programme
Leanne Jackson’s journey of enquiry is unfolding through post grad study. “Art is an area of absolute open enquiry...
“Art is an area of absolute open enquiry. You can study anything, follow your own interest in living, and express it through artwork.” Leanne Jackson’s journey of enquiry is unfolding through post grad study.
“I finished my degree in applied arts in Kerikeri at the end of last year and am now doing a master of art and design through AUT. The post grad work is focussed on finding a research question so it’s helping me clarify my direction. I’m using video and photography as a basis for social action and engagement. This has emerged from creating a video that was selected as a finalist in the Contemporary Art Awards at Waikato Museum, and in that I’m talking directly to the viewer reading a poem I wrote.”
Leanne’ poem is a call to action. “It’s about our entanglement with mass production, mass consumerism, and mass exploitation. I’m interested in how we can free ourselves from that entanglement, and I make a call for the small movement. If we can each take small actions in our immediate community we can make a huge difference.”
“In my time at NorthTec I enjoyed exploring and learning about different media and I used video and photographic components in my graduate show installation. My skills are now multi-facetted so I have lots of ways to manifest and express my ideas.”
Leanne particularly appreciated the critique week that her arts tutors introduced in the course. “The presentation skills I learnt from that have been excellent preparatory ground for my future work and study.”
While Leanne’s immediate future is her post graduate study, she has a longer term vision too. “My ultimate life journey is to live well as an artist. For artists there is often a balance between enjoying and pursuing our art and being able to pay the bills and support the making of our art. Ideally I’d like to be a full time artist earning enough to have a good life. But I also see the value in having part time work that interacts with others and contributes our skills to society in different ways so that our work remains unhampered by financial pressure and compromise.”
“Through my experience at NorthTec I see the real value of regional tertiary training institutions. They bring the community together from far and wide creating mutual support and enthusiasm. This stimulates personal growth as well as community growth and consequently lifts the whole community.”
Most artists that I've met have got a formal qualification in the arts. It's a good grounding and it's also about...
Trish Clarke is an established artist who combines part-time administrative work with her practice, based in a studio at her Whangarei home. She graduated in 2009 with a Bachelor of Applied Arts and now has a national profile as a contemporary sculptor working mainly in metals.
Trish said: "In the years since I graduated I've developed my practice and I now have a national profile. I do some work on commission and sell other work through outlets. My work can be seen at the Town Basin and I'm involved in the Camera Obscura project in Whangarei. I also have exhibitions coming up at Kings College and the Whangarei Quarry Gardens.
"I could do my artwork full time, as I have enough work to make it as a living. Working full time as an artist requires discipline, you've got to jump in with both feet and you just have to work away at it. However it is a bit isolating, so I prefer working out there with other people for some of the week - the mix of part-time admin work and part-time sculpting works well for me."
She recommends formal study for anyone who wants to work as an artist: "Most artists that I've met have got a formal qualification in the arts. It's a good grounding and it's also about connecting with other people - you get opportunities that you wouldn't get elsewhere. It's about joining a network of artists."