Art, environment come together
Waikanae’s Mahara Place echoed to the sound of haka and waiata when almost 160 Raumati Beach School pupils celebrated the launch of an annual art and environment programme described as life-changing.
The programme, Mahara-Nga Manu Children’s Art and Environment Project, involves 158 of the children exhibiting their art work in Mahara Gallery and 25 also performing their poetry in the gallery on film.
It’s the seventh consecutive year that Mahara Gallery and Nga Manu Nature Reserve have worked on the project with
Ka¯ piti schools.
The theme for 2018 has been Rere — to fly or to flow, descend or dive, swoop or soar.
The project is supported by the Philipp Family Foundation.
Six classes of Raumati Beach School children aged between eight and 10 took part this year.
Since it began in 2012, the project has been delivered to 16 primary schools and involved more than 1400 school children.
“For some children each year, it has been a life-changing experience,” Mahara Gallery director Janet Bayly said.
“It has given them new confidence, tools and skills to express themselves and explore their own unique perceptions.”
At the recent launch ceremony, 25 children received special awards for their work, 20 for art works and five for poetry.
“The challenge was different for every child but every one of them has shown that they are natural artists and creative thinkers with their own refreshing honesty and directness of expression.
“We have shared the delight of every child whose art and poetry we have helped bring into being, exhibit, publish and film.
“We owe our special thanks to all of the Philipp Family Foundation trustees for their ongoing support and faith in our project and investment in the health and well-being of our young Ka¯ piti citizens of the future.”
As part of the programme, the Raumati Beach School children spent a mid-winter morning at Nga Manu Nature Reserve exploring scientific, biological and environmental approaches to rere with ranger Rhys Mills.
In the afternoon they visited Mahara Gallery to see and respond to the art works and themes in two exhibitions for Matariki — Ma¯ ori New Year.
Back in the classroom, the children took part in two workshops with artist Michelle Backhouse. Some also chose to create poetry and rap with Dean Hapeta and Mary-Jane Duffy.
The end result is an exhibition of the children’s work at the gallery, either framed on the wall or in the form of poetry and rap on film produced by Dean Hapeta.
Both art works and poetry have been captured in a special 84-page book that includes the children’s own comments on their work and their experience of the project.
Ava Hipkins in Earth Life wrote: “I felt the wind blow in my face. My art came alive.
“Everything was moving. It’s not how I had looked at art before. It’s flowing like rere — now I understand the meaning of art. Earth Life.”
Hope Middleton in Flowing wrote: “I loved the feeling of the paint sloshing onto the paper and I like mixing the colours to make new colours and putting it on the paper. It made me feel good when I heard that art is never wrong.”
Writing in the foreword to the book, Philipp Family Foundation trustee Robin Philipp said the trust continues to be entranced by the innovative, thoughtful and stimulating quality of the art work produced.
“Their quality is outstanding and we are delighted that the new book arising from each year’s publication can be enjoyed by so many people, including some living abroad,” he wrote.
“The fundamental qualities of children have much to teach us.
“They include imagination, enthusiasm, awe, wonder, spontaneous expression, creativity and imaginative play.
“If as adults, we can recapture something of these qualities and live a little more by them — while at the same time remaining mindful of the values of the natural environment, our health and well-being could benefit considerably.”
Rere — to Fly, to Flow will show at the Gallery until October 21.
There will be two special workshops at Mahara Gallery during the school holidays.
Kite-making with Yvonne de Mille is on October 10 from 10.30am to 12.30pm and 1.30pm to 3.30pm.
It is suitable for primary school age children accompanied by an adult. Capturing the art of flight with artist and educator Paul Forrest is on Thursday October 4 from 10.30am to 12.30pm and 1.30pm to 3.30pm and the same hours on Friday October 5, suitable for children aged five to 12.
Children from Raumati Beach School perform haka and waiata in Waikanae’s Mahara Place to celebrate the launch of the Mahara-Nga Manu Children’s Art and Environment Project.
The book cover of Rere — to Fly to Flow, Raumati Beach Children’s Creations.