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New art exhibit celebrates nationally recognised artists

Press Release – Waiariki Institute Of Technology

8 February 2012 For immediate release New art exhibit celebrates nationally recognised artists with ties to Waiariki Institute of Technology’s art education

8 February 2012
For immediate release

New art exhibit celebrates nationally recognised artists with ties to Waiariki Institute of Technology’s art education

A collection of art created by nearly 20 renowned local and international artists will be featured in a new, permanent art exhibit at Waiariki Institute of Technology.

The new exhibit will be officially opened in the atrium of Waiariki’s main corporate reception building on Mokoia Campus in Rotorua this evening.

Visitors of the exhibition will enjoy paintings, carvings, sculpture and other mediums by George Andrews, June Grant, Lewis Gardiner, Ross Hemera and more.

The 2.4-metre long sculpture, “Te Whetu Rere o Tanenuiārangi”, was created by Lewis Gardiner using glass and greenstone.

One of the purposes of the exhibit, says acting Chief Executive John Snook, is to “profile the nationally recognised artists that had their initial training at Waiariki in what was the best art school in the country.”

The collection and exhibit was the brainchild of the institute’s former chief executive Dr Pim Borren.

“The vision behind the permanent art collection,” says Dr Borren, “is the same vision I had around lots of my initiatives – for example, the various academies, and sponsorships such as the New Zealand Aria – celebrating excellence, especially through our unique bicultural identity.”

As an institute with a long history of teaching creative arts, including traditional Māori art forms, many pieces have been gifted to or purchased by Waiariki. In many cases the artworks were created by students, graduates or tutors of Waiariki’s art programme. Dr Borren assigned the task of creating an inventory of these pieces which turned out to be quite the mission.

“When I arrived at Waiariki in 2006 we owned quite a bit of art work but no one knew where it was or what it was worth,” says Dr Borren.

At the same time, Dr Borren created an annual budget of $20,000 and asked art department staff to make recommendations around purchases to support the existing collection as nothing had been invested in a number of years.

“In the case of creative arts, Waiariki has a long rich history of excellence and I was trying to recapture that by telling the story, mostly through past staff and students’ works, particularly graduates who were able to make a vocation out of their skills,” says Dr Borren.

“It tells the story of bicultural art at Waiariki and in some ways reflects the history of the whole institute, in other words, re-establishing our original vision as a truly bicultural community college supporting our region’s rich cultural heritage.”

Dr Borren’s spend on the art was around $120,000. Thanks to artists’ generosity and dedication to the cause, the collection was purchased at prices much lower than their value. The collection was recently valued at $400,000.

“I might add the generosity of some of our past staff has been mind blowing, no more so than [former art lecturer] Barry Dabb. These people were so keen to see this area being reinvigorated!”

The exhibit will be installed by Chris Currie, curator at Rotorua Museum.

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