Tauranga Art Lovers

Pete Morris was climbing Mauao one day last summer when he met Dr James Su, a visiting cruise ship passenger. The doctor was admiring the view but was also keen
to see Tauranga’s art.

“His question to me was ‘where are the art galleries?’” says Pete.

“So I drew him a very hasty map. After I met the American doctor, I thought about how if an art walk became a popular pastime for visitors, then that would be really good for local artists.”

This chance meeting led to Pete, who runs Te Kiteroa Gallery, and Murray Clode of Macandmor Art Space spending time at Easter going for a walk themselves to find all the art-related locations.

“I was carrying around all this info in my head,” says Pete.

“He knew the locations, the history, who did it,” says Murray. “I knew I could assemble all that information and put it together into something we can print. So that’s the two roles in this collaboration.”

Their new art lovers’ map includes locations to drive and walk to, and highlights street art, public art, pottery and sculpture locations; art organisations, galleries and studios; and the location of Maori art that could be of particular interest to tourists.

“It’s so much more than just a map. For example, you can go to the website of the artist and read up about their art,” says Pete.

I decided to visit some of the more than 70 listed locations. The map has a list of 25 locations to walk to in downtown Tauranga, 27 to walk to at Mount Maunganui, and another 26 locations to drive to around suburban Tauranga.

I started at Macandmor Art Space in the Goddards Centre. Murray saw the space was available in 2016 and felt it was a great opportunity to showcase the quality of local artists’ work. The gallery is full of a variety of work in all mediums, all for sale.

Looking at the art has resulted in attending new exhibition launches, meeting people and talking with the artists themselves.

Within easy walking distance of this Tauranga CBD location are the Owen Dippie series of larger-than-life murals that grace the inner streets of the city centre. The four murals that make up the series were commissioned in 2013 by Priority One. The largest, a recreation of Bottecelli’s ‘The Birth of Venus’, is 27 metres high on the Harrington House building in Harington St. The other three are the three-metre-high portrayal of Vermeer’s ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ on the Kale Print Building in Cameron Rd, ‘The Madonna’ on the Elizabeth St car parking building and ‘The Creation of Adam’ on Elizabeth St.

A year earlier, Owen Dippie brought to life Charles Goldie’s ‘Ina Te Papatahi’, on a wall in Masonic Park.

At the inaugural Street Art Festival, organised by Jah and Lovie Smith, and held in Tauranga in December 2015, 16 murals from 18 artists brought Mount Maunganui alive with colour, under the theme ‘Land and Sea’. Charles and Janine Williams painted ‘Rise of the Guardians’ on a Mount Maunganui wall. This mural of a spotted shag within a whare design – tukutuku panels – acknowledged the Rena disaster and its impact on the local birdlife. The Rena disaster was also referenced in Peter Cramond’s penguin sculpture ‘The Sea’s That Way’, located opposite Mount Drury on Marine Parade.

It’s not all murals though. Also on the art lovers’ map is the Te Awanui waka, carved by Tuti Tukaokao from a 300-year-old kauri tree in 1973 after a request by the city to the Maori Cultural and Promotional Committee. It sits on the corner of The Strand and McLean St, on nearly the exact site that waka would come ashore below the old Bonded store which now houses Sun Media.

Te Awanui is the original name of Tauranga harbour.

This link through art to our local history is a satisfying one, whether it’s to the recent past with the Rena disaster, or to a 100 or more years previously.

However art for art’s sake, which can have a variety of meanings, can also be happily dug out of Pete and Murray’s Tauranga’s Art Lovers’ map.  

At the award-winning The Incubator in 17th Ave, resident artists explore concepts and thoughts, translating them into two or three-dimensional visual explorations.

“To create ideas and associations between the objects is as much the responsibility of the artist as the viewer,” says The Incubator director and artist Simone Anderson.

The wonder of this, is that art is never ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, it’s an expression. It may reference personal history, or local history, or it may not. It may connect us through the eyes of the artist to the land and sea around us, or it may transport us into an imaginary place or awaken a feeling or idea.

Instead of stumbling across a piece of local art, pick up the Art Lovers’ map first, and use it to see, connect, understand and absorb the art around us. The free art maps can be obtained from Information Centres and art galleries at the Mount and in Tauranga.