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Cancelled: Journey to Kilbirnie

Wednesday 18 May 2022, 10:30 am - 11:30 am


We have cancelled the planned visit to Toi Poneke to meet Rosa Allison and Oliver Dorman, who emigrated from London to Kilbirnie in 2020.


They will talk to us about Journey to Kilbirnie – producing art in response to uncertain times, to their hopes and dreams and navigating their new life in Wellington. The exhibition brings together a selection of abstract and figurative paintings which arose from sketch booking, a technique which provided the pair a creative outlet throughout the uncertainties of MIQ, lockdowns and settling into Wellington.

Allison echoes the theme of a journey quite literally in the form of a boot motif. The heels are high, blocky, and determined. These are the boots she wore every day when she first moved to London, still being a farm girl at heart with a bad sense of direction. Rosa’s paintings combine oil and charcoal applied liberally on raw canvas.

Allison’s recent paintings are pared back, echoing sketchbook energy. She is on an ongoing mission to make paintings that are as spontaneous as her drawings, because, she says, “The speed of pen and paper allows strangeness to slip out before self-censorship”.  Allison’s motif of the balancing egg is about fragility and fertility – one comes with the other. Uncertain times are also fertile for new ideas and inspiration.

Oliver Dorman’s recent paintings reflect his individual style developed from years of wood carving, painting and graffiti. On top of the washy dreamy backdrops are clean geometric lines that appear to hover. These lines frame parts of the background and direct our focus towards the abstract field of brush marks where forms and figures emerge. These semi-recognisable forms reflect Dorman’s fascination with ambiguous symbols such as those on Tarot cards, symbols that can be decoded and used to make sense of our internal worlds. His paintings invite long contemplation, as different meanings emerge in the observation process.

In their literal, emotional and artistic journey Allison and Dorman were each other’s harshest critics, and greatest support, culminating in a show that will appeal and captivate.

Rosa Allison

Rosa grew up on a farm in North Canterbury, she graduated from Ilam school of Fine Art, and went on to travel Europe with funds from the Susan Ethel Jones Fine Arts travelling scholarship. Along the way did a two month residency at Hangar in Lisbon. Rosa went on to do masters at the Royal College of Art. Later exhibiting in London, Portugal and Istanbul, and is represented by Art Piq a Germany based online Gallery.

Oliver Dorman

Oliver grew up in North London. Studied Fine Arts at Central Saint Martins then went on to study Historic wood-carving at City and Guilds of London Art School. On graduating he took two months to cycle from London to Lisbon stopping to visit religious and historical artefacts. He has worked on restorations and fine woodwork for Kensington Palace and Van-Gogh House and has exhibited his paintings across London since 2005 including at Take Courage Gallery and The Crypt, St Pancras.

About Toi Poneke Arts Centre: In 2005, residents of upper Cuba Street approached Wellington City Council for help to keep their artistic community alive in the face of rising rents and displacement by the construction of the Wellington Inner-City Bypass. Recognising the importance of creative energy to the inner city, the Council created and continues to operate Toi Pōneke to be a hub of arts and creativity.



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Wednesday 18 May 2022
10:30 am - 11:30 am
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Toi Poneke
61/69 Abel Smith Street
Wellington, New Zealand
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Friends of Te Papa
(04) 381 7051