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White Room artists to exhibit in Wellington’s Bowen House

George Smeaton, 'Me Eating an Apple'
Peter Chou, 'Moscow'
Virginia Fowler, 'Christmas Decorations and Diamonds with Windows'
"To celebrate the work of artists in a high-profile space is an experience not to be missed. Because what they make matters."


Nine artists from Christchurch creative space The White Room will travel to Wellington for the opening of their exhibition, Look, on Wednesday 18 November in the Bowen House exhibition space at Parliament. Each artist will exhibit three or four artworks.

The White Room art tutor, Simon Gray, says the nine artists were selected to represent the diversity of work that takes place in the creative space.

“It was a difficult process as we have around 100 artists using the space, so narrowing the selection to just nine took some time,” he says.

Fellow tutor Niki Jimenez says that artists who had built up a consistent body of work and had shown regularly were obvious choices. “We also included a few emerging talents. People who really see themselves as artists were chosen.”

Interesting exhibition timing
Simon says that the timing of the exhibition, just after the general election, has made the trip to Parliament all the more interesting. “At SkillWise, we’ve just had a series of Zoom meetings with most of the political parties, so the opportunity to see some politicians in their ‘natural’ environment is exciting. Some of the artists might have a few questions to ask of any politician who comes along to the opening.”

It’s significant that The White Room is exhibiting in Parliament, Simon says.

“There are many organisations across Aotearoa offering similar services to The White Room and it’s easy for us to remain isolated within this specialist field. By opening up opportunities to showcase the artists we can ‘de-privatise’ their practice, celebrate diversity and creativity on a wider scale, and connect with – and even influence – those who make decisions about public funding.

“The essential services that The White Room offers to our extended whānau cannot be underestimated.

“In this fast-paced world of change and uncertainty, creativity is often the most compelling and constant force for the artists of The White Room. Sadly, The White Room is a far from perfect artists’ studio, and it is rare for the artists to have the opportunity to view their work in a formal setting.

'What they make matters'
“To celebrate the work of artists in a high-profile space is an experience not to be missed. Contributing towards this exhibition has increased the agency of the artists, giving them the chance to share their talent with a wider audience and receive the endorsement they deserve. Because what they make matters.”

Simon also points out how important The White Room’s work is during these COVID-19 times.

“In strange and challenging times such as these, The White Room is needed more than ever to bring continuity, certainty and compassion to the creative people we support.”

The White Room artists were asked the question, “What is the best thing about exhibiting at Parliament?” They responded:

  • “I have been painting for a long time and if Jacinda Ardern came to see my work, I would tell her that my work speaks for me.” – Chris McFarlane
  • “A chance to show my work in Parliament, which is the equivalent of being invited to a tea party at Buckingham Palace.” – Gary Buchanan
  • “So people and the politicians can see my work and what I do.” – Grace Dodge
Further information: 

You can find out more about The White Room by visiting its website or Facebook page. Closer to the Look opening, there will be information about it on the Exhibitions page of Parliament’s website.

Look opens on Wednesday 18 November, with 17 December likely to be the final day. The exhibition space is open to the public on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10-3pm. Each artist will exhibit three or four artworks.

Written by

Arts Access Aotearoa

17 Nov 2020

About Arts Access Aotearoa