A group of about ten Friends visited the Bartley & Company’s recently opened new space in Garrett Street, Te Aro to view and learn about the two exhibitions on display.

The front gallery showcases zoomer, with works by Miranda Parkes.  Alison Bartley explained that Miranda Parkes came to the gallery with an impressive body of work behind her that comprises more than 20 solo exhibitions, over 50 group exhibitions and numerous awards and residencies’ including the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship, the Olivia Spencer Bower Award, a Tylee Cottage artist residency and the William Hodges Fellowship.  zoomer is however her first solo exhibition in Wellington.

As you enter the gallery, twenty small paintings made on pages from an old book provide a glorious impression of colour that emphasises the paint itself rather than the surfaces on which they sit.  These works are central to zoomer and were the starting point for the show.  Fluoro colours, golds and silvers are applied to timber pallets, book pages and plastic tiles.  Miranda began these small works during the lockdown when, unable to go to her studio, she had to work at her kitchen table.  As you look around the gallery, the larger works on the back wall come into focus reemphasising the impression of rich colour and joyfulness.

In the back gallery, Flowers from Niue, is a small collection of works from Cora-Allen Wickliffe.  Cora-Allan is a multi-disciplinary artist of Maori and Niue descent.  She is a founding member of the BC COLLECTIVE and is a maker of Hiapo (Niuean Barkcloth).  Cora-Allan is currently in Wellington for a three-month residency at Massey University.

Cora-Allan explained to us that she is the only maker of Hiapo.  Her restoration of the craft emphasises the importance of the form and function of the work that goes beyond being an art work.  Hiapo for example, is used to wrap bodies after death.  Cora-Allen undertakes the whole process of Hiapo construction herself, including making traditional paints with which to decorate the cloth.  She described to us the features that give Hiapo its particular character including that the designs are painted freehand and not stencilled as are some other Pacific tapas.  She talked about the impact on her and her work of not being able to return to Niue due to the closed borders, and the longing she feels for the physical connection to Niue.  In response to questions, she spoke about the balance in her work between restoration of the craft, and artistic endeavour and innovation.  She, is for example, looking at getting more colour into her work.

Both exhibitions are open until 17 April.

Feature image: Detail from: Exhibition Installation photo of Hiapo: Flowers of Niue by Cora-Allen, 2021. Bartley & Company Art.