Two EIT Hawke’s Bay students have been singled out to showcase their painting prowess at Greenmeadows Rotary Club’s National Art Exhibition and Sale opening this weekend.
The club chose second-year Bachelor of Visual Arts and Design students Karen Burns and Jade North to take part in the exhibition, which is held annually as a charity fundraiser.
Irish-born Karen and home-grown talent Jade draw on very different influences to inform their art.
Submitting three paintings for the exhibition being held in the Pan Pac Foyer in Napier’s Municipal Theatre, Karen chose autumn leaves as her theme.
“My current art is nature-based,” she explains, “reflecting its diversity and how order emerges out of chaos.”
A former student of Karamu High School in Hastings, Jade found his inspiration in architecture, grids and circuits. Aiming for transparency, he has layered quick-drying acrylic paint to achieve a transparency that reveals the construction in his work.
Preparing his paintings for the exhibition, Jade also sourced vinyl strips from a signwriting business. Influenced by digital technology and aiming for visual impact, he has applied the brightly coloured strips onto the surface of the canvases.
Karen took a different approach. Trialling medium density fibreboard as a medium on which to apply paint, she has used liquid oil and her hands to achieve tactile input.
“I consider my work experimental,” says the Napier mother-of-three. “Nature is an influence in terms of the textural play and tonal colour palette.”
Both students are 2D majors – Jade in painting and Karen in painting and drawing.
For Jade, the major’s attraction again lay in the potential for constructing artworks.
“You start with something and see it develop through your own input. Painting in acrylic, you can change anything you need to.”
Materiality is very important in Karen’s art. She beachcombs the tideline, gathering up seaweed and sand as well as pumice, shells and the burnt remains of logs to grind down and apply to the surface of her works.
She also enjoys introducing contrast. As an example of this approach, she might create texture and pattern by using water-based and meth-based liquids that don’t naturally mix.
“To work with immediacy evokes an unconscious response,” she points out.
Jade’s subjects at school include painting, print and photography and, in going on to tertiary study, his longer-term goal was to teach art. He may still pursue that ambition, but feels he still has time before finally deciding on a career.
Asked about her plans, Karen deflects the question with a laugh.
“I’m very much in the moment,” she says.
What is certain, however, is that she won’t be going back to work as a registered nurse and midwife. She has no regrets about her original choice of career, however – it was a path that allowed her to live in Scotland, Egypt and Australia before meeting her future kiwi husband John on a trip to New Zealand.
Once her daughters reached adolescence, Karen resolved to enrol for art studies at EIT. Her one deathbed regret would have been not to have realised this “burning desire”.
She loves the degree programme which, she says, provides a good knowledge base of artists.
For her, the thought process in creating works is very important – “not just art for art’s sake”.
Nineteen-year-old Jade likes that EIT is local, and that the class sizes are small. He also enjoys the accessibility of staff. Painting lecturer Wellesley Binding, he points out, has a studio on campus, just steps away from where Jade and Karen work on their art in their own studio spaces.