First Thursdays quarterly: November
by Kelly Carmichael
Queenstown’s favourite late night art crawl returns in its new quarterly format next week on Thursday, 2 November.
There are fresh exhibitions to see, including several new images by celebrated Ngāi Tahu artist Fiona Pardington at Starkwhite. Pardington’s latest work has an intriguing history – inscribed with a dedication, the heitiki in her photograph was given to the then Prince of Wales during a Royal Tour by the people of West Harbour, Otago, in 1920. The Prince was crowned King Edward VIII 16 years later but soon abdicated the throne. Carved from a rare variety of Pounamu, the stone was sourced from Piopiotahi / Milford Sound. As one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s leading artists, with over three decades photographing taonga of the natural and cultural world, Pardington was granted access to this rare and special taonga by its owner.
At Milford Galleries, you’ll find Natchez Hudson’s exhibition Shut the Land off from the Sea. In this new body of work landscapes evolve into a profound conversation about change and permanence. Through meticulous painting and compositional experimentation, traditional notions of scenery are dismantled, inviting viewers to explore the dynamic relationship between nature and human perception. Also showing at the gallery is painter Michael McHugh, who will be giving an artist talk on the night at 6pm. McHugh’s exhibition Natural Philosophy explores the intersection of art and science, weaving together threads of history, nature, and imagination. Each work is a vibrant tapestry born from experimentation with paint techniques and a deep connection to the natural world.
Artbay’s Upstairs Exhibition space is showing work by Jae Frew that pays tribute to Aotearoa’s native birds and the dedicated conservationists who safeguard them. Inspired by Old Master painters and modern photographers, Frew’s work elevates birds to reverential status through a formal style and bespoke wooden frames crafted from reclaimed native timber. Frew will give an artist talk at 7pm in his exhibition. Also showing at Artbay is Elan, whose work evokes the essence of Contemporary Japanese art. Through delicate ink washes (sumi-e), he captures the profound significance of simplicity and space, principles fundamental to both art and spirituality. Elan’s paintings resonate with a deep wisdom, portraying a meditative exploration of self-discovery.
Lightworx has new work by Alex Le Diamantaire. A teenage infatuation with graffiti led to a passion for art and metalwork and since 2011 the French artist has been developing a street art project based on the theme of diamonds. Collecting abandoned mirrors and reinventing them as public works of art his sculptures are multi-faceted universes that play with light and dimension through steel, glass, and mirror.
Head to Romer Gallery for large format landscape photographs by Stephan Romer that capture wild places and remote locations around our dramatic region. Work on display includes Wilson Creek Chasm, a spectacular sight deep in the Westland World Heritage Area with sheer, moss covered walls sheltering a tranquil blue-green pool below. Also in the gallery is a photograph of Lake Matheson, famous for the perfect reflections which appear on a calm day. A perfectly synchronised moment in this image shows the Southern Alps in the distance – once in real life and once as a reflection.
Going forward each First Thursdays Quarterly will present satellite events outside of the main galleries on the same evening. In November an exciting collaboration with Bound Books and Records brings an experimental sound art event to Queenstown. Starting at 7.30pm, All Souls Day: Purgatory is the first in a series linking the landscapes of Tāhuna/ Queenstown and Ōtepoti/Dunedin. Featuring experimental sound artists Kāhu (Ōtepoti), Cecil Turbine (Ōtepoti), and Selective Yellow (Whanganui-a-Tara/ Ōtepoti) the event offers an opportunity to be part of an exciting sound-art scene rarely experienced in Queenstown.
First Thursdays Quarterly connects our community with creativity offering new exhibitions and artist talks during a special late-night opening. Thanks to Akarua, join us for a glass of some of this region’s finest wine as you take in the art. Maps are available at participating galleries and on the First Thursdays instagram – @firstthursdaysqt – and facebook page.
First Thursdays Quarterly
5–7.30pm, Thursday 2 November. Earl Street and Marine Parade, Queenstown.
6pm – Michael McHugh at Milford Galleries, 9a Earl Street
7pm – Jae Frew at Artbay Upstairs Exhibitions, entrance off Church Street
From 7.30pm – All Souls Day: Purgatory experimental sound
at Bound Books and Records, 3 Church Street