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Letter from Barry Brickell - January, 2015

by Barry Brickell

The new exhibition here in the Driving Creek Art Gallery opened on Boxing Day without much fanfare because everyone was busily involved with the post-Christmas rush.  The gallery is open every day from about 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is staffed by a welcoming attendant.  It is my policy to have a theme for each exhibition and to write a comprehensive catalogue that includes the provenance of each work. Few other galleries seem to do this.  I believe that it helps the viewer to begin a dialogue with the work. Some visitors will stand in front of a work for some time, maybe puzzling about it but I see this as a form of communication. The title of this exhibition is "Paint and Clay as Forms of Expression".  It is certainly not like conventional art society types of exhibitions;  there are some challenging works here!  

Two major works by the late Keith Patterson dominate the end wall.  Keith was my first art mentor when I was at secondary school.  After returning from Spain in 1957, he and his wife took up residence near our family home in Devonport. Through Keith, I became acquainted with several other artists involved with the "modern" movement, hell-bent on new forms of expression, ditching any trace of "cultural cringe" or "national inferiority complex".  I also needed to include the work of the newer generation of Pacifica artists and my catalogue details aspects of their work.  We change exhibitions twice yearly - this one runs to about mid year.  In the ceramics display are some fine works by the late Dr Deirdre Airey, with interpretations of her biblical stories.  As with our previous exhibition "Railways as Art", this one is drawing a lot of interest from the public.  For children as well as adults, our new DVD player provides entertainment in the form of me being filmed making the "last fatso" jug from start to finish, including the firing.  (Entry to the gallery is free).

Not a lot to report on the extended wharf concept at this stage except for a report by Scott Wynands on his visit to the Westhaven Marina in Auckland. Here he met up with manager Kevin Lidgard who said that he is fully behind the extended pile wharf concept, emphasising that it would be a hit for Auckland "boaties" to have such an attraction in Coromandel harbour. It would make our town much more accessible and be of great benefit to local businesses. He offered to give any advice on project development and sees no point in developing yet another ecologically questionable marina.  At this point I would like to reiterate that any railway along the wharf would simply be a utility enabling a much less expensive option than a wharf designed for tour buses.

Finally, we are looking forward to the working visit of Paul Lorimer and his daughter Catherine from Okinawa,  due here about 20th January for up to three months. Local restauranteurs:  a reminder - consider some handcrafted local pottery!  Paul has pottery skills that match those of George Sempagala, who many of our readers will fondly remember.  Also, it was heartening for Lindsay Garmson to have made very good sales from his recent Hauraki House exhibition - his 26th!  He deserves it as well as good sales of his Coromandel Granite book.  And lastly, Nate Savill, our blacksmith is working here again.  Please put your orders in.

Season's tidings,