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The places we call home: McAtamney Gallery


Norah Johnson came to New Zealand from Toronto when she was seven years old. Her Irish-Canadian father and Kiwi mother settled the family in Auckland, and though it initially came as quite a culture shock, gradually Norah came to love living in the City of Sails.

 

In her early 20s, Norah visited Canada on a pilgrimage to her birthplace, but halfway through her trip she began to miss New Zealand. “I missed the beaches, the light – the open skies.”

Norah returned home to do her Bachelor of Arts majoring in Art History and English Literature, followed by a Master of Arts in Communications Studies. After her Masters, Norah began painting and exhibited at Franklin Arts Centre, NZ Steel Gallery, Megan Dickinson Gallery and Hangar Gallery.

It was on a visit to Christchurch, post-quake, that Norah felt an attraction to our city and eventually made the move here. Ōtautahi is now the city she calls home.

Of her current exhibition Homage to Home at McAtamney Gallery, Norah has this to say:

“I’m an abstract expressionist. Colour and mark making are my primary tools for expression. My work embraces the accidental, the spontaneous and the experimental.

“I work intuitively – interacting with the canvas in a non-critical, unpremeditated way. I seek to bypass the conscious mind (as far as possible) and engage with more subtle, intangible processes of art making. I want to discover how colour and marks interrelate in a harmonious, balanced and abstracted manner to ultimately reveal their lyricism.

“Homage to Home is about the universal need and desire to put down roots and cultivate harmony within a landscape that is both domestic and geographical. Motifs and references of Mid-Canterbury and Christchurch have consistently featured in my work since I arrived 18-months ago. My work attempts to provide the viewer with a perceived sense of belonging to a time and place recorded and then distilled in an overall impression of that experience.”


 

Lines, light & rhythm: McAtamney Gallery


Susanna Izard loves the drama of dark skies, the interplay of light and shade, the power of nature, which she describes as “awe inspiring, wonderful and terrible!”

 

When it comes to her paintings, the “three big things” are lines, light and rhythm.

Though working on landscapes for now, Susanna responds to the challenge of anything that catches her eye.

“During lockdown I kept a daily drawing journal and drew things both inside and outside.”

Inspiration is never far away, with Lake Tekapo and the stark, uncompromising beauty of the Mackenzie Country right on Susanna’s doorstep, it’s just a matter of loading the ute with her paints and painting kit and heading on out there.

McAtamney Gallery in Geraldine is hosting Susanna’s exhibition, Clarity and Beauty in a Mad World, on November 11.


 

Painting with watercolours: McAtamney Gallery


‘A Brush with Spring’ opens Wednesday 13 November, 7pm at McAtamney Gallery. The exhibition features rhododendrons and other flowers, exquisitely captured by internationally acclaimed watercolourist Richard Bolton. Opening night also affords the opportunity to meet the artist.

 

RICHARD BOLTON – CHARLOTTE DE ROTHSCHILD

 

Painting and drawing started early on for Richard. A tin of paints and a sketch pad always went into the back of the car when his parents ventured abroad. Every stop had to be painted. His interest carried on through to art school.

Initially Richard worked as an illustrator for seven years, mainly drawing black and white illustrations with pencil and ink. It was only in the weekends that Richard was able to get out his paints and paintbrush and work with watercolours.

He credits artist John Singer Sargent and his book Watercolours as being instrumental in igniting what was to become a lifelong passion for painting in the medium – a medium that Richard admits is not the easiest to work with. “Painting with watercolours is like risking your arm; every painting can be a bit of a gamble. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t. Unlike oils or acrylics, you can’t really control watercolours… it’s a bit like trying to train cats!”

 

RICHARD BOLTON – HAYDENTASKER

This somewhat humble self-appraisal of his work belies the enormous success of the artist, whose paintings have achieved sell-out exhibitions in Europe, and of the author, whose writing on painting has brought book commissions from British, American and Chinese publishers.

Richard says his paintings can’t be buttonholed as to subject or theme. “It’s whatever grabs me at the time. I like to find something unusual – something that gives a different angle.”

Many of Richard’s earlier paintings depict the gentle, bucolic scenery of where he lived at the time, near the Ouse River in Cambridgeshire, but with the relocation to South Canterbury’s Geraldine with his New Zealand-born wife in 2003, Richard’s watercolours began to reflect our wild and craggy Aotearoa.

“Painting with watercolours is an adrenalin rush. If you screw up, it can be frustrating. But it’s amazing to be able to do what you love.”

‘A Brush with Spring’ exhibition will be at McAtamney Gallery and Design Store, 40A Talbot Street, Geraldine (new location opposite Village Inn).

Phone 027 305 3000, visit www.mcatamneygallery.co.nz or email carolyn@mcatamneygallery.co.nz.

 

 


 

Capturing Southern Beauty: McAtamney Gallery


The beauty of the South Island landscape has been captured by one of the country’s leading watercolourists, Bernadette Parsons, in a new exhibition at Geraldine’s McAtamney Gallery this month.

 

 

The gallery’s new premises on Geraldine’s main street (40a Talbot Street) is playing the prestigious host to the exhibition, entitled Haast, which features 12 paintings, mostly painted on location in the Haast Pass area, evoking the solitude and serenity found in the mountains, bush and coast.

The Waikato-based artist often makes her way to our southern spot, drawing inspiration from the beauty of the landscapes. She started painting more than 20 years ago, moved by watching a watercolourist work, and clearly demonstrates a deep connection with the landscapes she turns her talented hand to. “Watercolour allows me to interpret the landscape, to find what is unique,” she says.

 

“This is the main thing in any painting. I also love watercolour’s spontaneity: it can be strong and wilful, yet there’s a transparency and softness too.” While working as a practice nurse and raising four children, Bernadette immersed herself in art, every chance she could, seeing as many international tutors as she could.

“I love landscapes, in particular trees, as a couple we’ve got a business growing trees, but a lot of it comes down to how you ‘see’ a landscape,” Bernadette explains. “Artists all have their own unique way of seeing a landscape.”

Today, Bernadette has numerous awards under her artistic belt, including the Best Watercolour in Show at the Easter Show and the award for Most Successful Artist in Show. Her work also features in the books ‘New Zealand in Watercolour’ and ‘Impressions of New Zealand’ by Denis Robinson.

 

Gallery Director Carolyn McAtamney says Bernadette is one of the country’s leading watercolourists and the proof is in the finished product. “Her ability to capture the moments of stillness and peace we feel in the natural world is breathtaking. Bernadette has mastered the loose brushstroke in a way that is second to none and has a style that New Zealanders adore.”

Find the gallery at 40a Talbot Street, Geraldine, opposite the Village Inn. For more information, phone 027 305 3000 or visit www.mcatamneygallery.co.nz.