Crowd opens ex­hi­bi­tion

Stratford Press - - News - By RHONDA BUNYAN, Percy Thom­son Gallery Di­rec­tor

A ca­pac­ity crowd at­tended the open­ing event of IAM WOMAN at Percy Thom­son Gallery (PTG) on Fri­day night.

More than 80 Taranaki fe­male artists, and an­other two with strong lo­cal con­nec­tions, make up this out­stand­ing ex­hi­bi­tion. The artists were also asked to write words that de­scribed the think­ing be­hind their work. They were asked to ex­plore the ‘essence of wom­an­hood’ ac­cord­ing to their world view. The ed­i­to­rial added an ex­tra di­men­sion to the ex­hi­bi­tion and PTG will pro­duce a book­let with art­work and words to com­mem­o­rate it.

In 2018 New Zealand stands tall on the world stage and cel­e­brates its role as a global leader. One hun­dred and twenty-five years ago women won the right to vote in par­lia­men­tary elec­tions. New Zealand was the first na­tion in the world where fe­males won the vote, some­thing that has long been a source of pride, but some­thing which, nowa­days, may be taken for granted.

That should never be the case. It is vi­tal we re­mem­ber the women who risked their rep­u­ta­tions, re­la­tion­ships, safety and se­cu­rity to de­mand and ef­fect change; the women who have blazed trails for oth­ers to fol­low in var­i­ous fields long dom­i­nated by men; the women on whose de­ter­mined shoul­ders oth­ers can now stand; the women still lead­ing by ex­am­ple and break­ing down bar­ri­ers that re­main in place.

Guests were en­ter­tained by our very own sug­grag­ists, beamed back from 1893, in the midst of a protest out­side Par­lia­ment.

Lo­cal mu­si­cian Leona Palmer, ac­com­pa­nied by part­ner Lau­rence Cooper, sang women’s an­thems such Am Woman, made fa­mous by He­len Reddy. Leona also wrote a mov­ing new song for the ex­hi­bi­tion open­ing, When She Flies. It is avail­able on Percy Thom­son’s Face­book page.

Guest speaker Ge­orgina Beyer held the au­di­ence in the palm of her hand with an

Ien­gag­ing and spir­ited open­ing speech.

Much of her life has been in the pub­lic spot­light when, af­ter some years of street life as a sex worker, then as an en­ter­tainer and ac­tor, she made his­tory as the world’s first trans­gen­der mayor and then MP. Things haven’t gone her way, how­ever, since she turned away from pol­i­tics. For a start, she wasn’t able to land the kind of job that her skill and ex­pe­ri­ence fit­ted her for. And then ill-health, from kid­ney and heart dis­ease, took a ter­ri­ble toll.

Ge­orgina was first di­ag­nosed with chronic end­stage re­nal fail­ure in 2013, and al­most ex­actly four years later she is of­fi­cially out of re­nal fail­ure due to an of­fer of a kid­ney from a friend.

As an MP Ge­orgina made a huge con­tri­bu­tion to the Civil Union bill and pros­ti­tu­tion re­form. “You have to re­mem­ber: law is easy to change, at­ti­tudes through­out a coun­try are not. It takes gen­er­a­tions and role mod­els to show the na­tion that we’re not the hor­ri­ble, de­mented, crazy peo­ple they might think we are.”

Thanks to all those who helped to make this such a ‘block­buster’ event. It runs un­til Jan­uary 27, 2019.

We man­aged to trans­port th­ese won­der­ful sug­grag­ists to PTG from 1893. They look very fa­mil­iar to some of our Strat­ford women!

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