It is with a certain sense of nostalgia that I put together this piece for the back page. It will be my last, as curator at Russell Museum – Te Whare Taonga o Kororāreka. Looking back over exhibitions from those four years, two stand out, both of them art exhibitions. The first, Made in Russell, showcased work from local artists, some of whom were until then, unknown as artists in our community. This is what one of our well known artists, Helen Pick, wrote about it in August 2014: An inspirational glimpse into Kororāreka/Russell as expressed over the years by a few of our resident artworkers. Thank you our museum for this show. Let’s do it again! Nga mihi arohanui ki a koutou. Helen Pick, Kororāreka.
A year later we are again exhibiting art, this time contemporary Māori art prints, with the support of Toi Māori. Here’s another more recent entry from our visitors book : This is a beautiful exhibition. Well done you wonderful artists. Elizabeth Ellis (Mountain) Te Rawhiti. This art comes from almost the full length of our country, from Te Wai Pounamu to Houhora and includes three Kororāreka artists. Several of the featured artists attended the opening day. Many of them are young, some not long out of art school. They are the present and future of Māori print art. After the opening event they sat around in the gallery with Clive Arlidge and Cliff Whiting, whose work spans decades. These senior practitioners and the junior ones talked of art history in Aotearoa, of their personal histories and the demands of being a Māori artist working outside of the mainstream art world. Many of them have been and are teachers. Many of the stories were moving. For several of these young people, it was art that helped them survive in a world they felt out of step with. They all agreed – art saves lives.
The photo shows Helen Pick at the Made in Russell Exhibition 2014
Text: Shelley Arlidge, Russell Museum. Photo: Stephen Western