“Do it” said the internal voice - and so she didANGELA CROMPTON
‘Do it,” an inner voice urged Blenheim artist Fran Maguire as she went to open her studio door.
She was entering it to make sculptures for an exhibition at the Millennium Art Gallery in Blenheim. Maguire planned to use a pastel palette to create feminine forms she thought would complement works to be done by fellow artists Sara Schotanus and Janet Green. But as Maguire's hand turned the studio door handle, a spectre of colourful spheres appeared before her. “Do it” said the internal voice - and so she did.
Maguire, Schotanus and Green spoke to gallery visitors on Saturday about their works in the exhibition, called Three. Ninety-eight brightly coloured, spiral-patterned spheres by Maguire are placed in orderly geometric patterns on two walls. Their meaning cannot be easily explained, she admitted.
“I explore myself in clay; my philosophy in life and the way I think. I don't know what it's about . . . [perhaps] cellular energy and the spark that makes it grow? It does its own thing independently.”
So far she has made more than twice as many spheres as the number being exhibited. No two are alike and she knows more will be made.
“[The work] keeps giving me more questions.
“And I'm interested in the questions I ask myself; because that keeps me in a direction I want to go. As the questions change, the work will keep changing and I will learn a little about something else.”
Art is a good tool for finding directions in life, Green agreed. The Masterton-based professional artist supplements her income with an art-tutoring job, helping people with mental health problems use it to make life connections.
Green presented a menagerie of coiled-clay animals to show at the Millennium. Titled Comfort Creatures, they helped her deal with the loss of an elderly cat which had lived with her for 16 years.
Dealing with the cat's absence by replacing it with a new one was unthinkable, so Green started making inanimate animals from clay. Soon she was surrounded by clay creatures and eventually they started telling her their names. Labels let gallery visitors know them, too: Hugo, Rupert, Humphrey, Henrietta, Miss M . . . They could be the names of people Schotanus' "middle-class Victorian grandparents” mingled with in England.
Plates and pots made in her grandparents' honour are the first of three family history chapters she shows in the exhibition.
Her 19 pieces were either wheeled, coiled or shaped and range from plates with painted faces wearing real necklaces and earrings, to chunky clay cups and saucers representing the two-dimensional drawings her daughters did as children. Schotanus said she organised the exhibition as a way to deal with her grief when her mother died.
The works also celebrate her English heritage and acknowledge what was lost when she made New Zealand her home.
Three is on at the Millennium Art Gallery in Blenheim until October 29.
- The Marlborough Express