Te Puke gives rugby art a good home

Visitors and Bay of Plenty residents are in for a treat with a wide variety of displays under the same roof, when Arch (Art, Rugby, Culture, Heritage) Te Puke holds a special exhibition next month. Betty Jeeves spoke to John Beech, Creative Tauranga community gallery curator and arts adviser, who came up with the group's name.

Planning has been full speed ahead since a site was secured six weeks ago for Arch Te Puke's exhibition.

Aimed at showcasing Te Puke, the kiwifruit capital of the world, the exhibition's goal is to provide a dynamic experience for visitors during the Rugby World Cup.

Themed "Our People, Our Place, Our Region", the show is to be held at the old Furniture to Go store in Jellicoe St, courtesy of owner Grant Rowe.

"He's been so supportive and very generous," said John Beech, Creative Tauranga community gallery curator and arts adviser.

The exhibition will feature photos of eminent rugby players from Eastern Districts, Rangiuru and Te Puke sports clubs, as well as the Te Puke High School first XV and the historic Tai Mitchell Tournament.

These photos will take pride of place in the show, alongside a collection of regional rugby memorabilia and historic items.

A solo exhibition, Touch, Pause, Engage, by painter and sculptor Andrea Cooper, is another rugby-related show.

"I like the ambiguity [of the exhibition's title], and it is definitely connected to rugby but also applies to the artwork," she said. She describes the work as "thundering, rampaging, full-on contact with a smidgen of blood and a touch of ballet - on canvas".

Cooper has exhibited throughout the North Island and recently sold a sculpture to the James Wallace Arts Trust.

The Arch Te Puke exhibition will show works from 12 local artists: Megan Theodore, Debbie Tipuna, Judy Flatt, Sue Willers, Aileen Feist, Julie Neketai, Jayne Ivimey, Andy Belcher, Karen Cowell, Angela McKenzie, Robin Williams and Gerberg Muntemdamis.

Neketai said she jumped at the challenge of painting a mural for the Cup after also designing the Te Puke Kiwifruit flags.

"The rugby ball holds multi-coloured rugby poses, representing the nationalities coming to New Zealand for the event. Surrounding the rugby ball are subjects of Te Puke, and if you look close enough a map of New Zealand is silhouetted throughout the piece," she said.

Neketai had assistance from her daughter, Destiny, to create the mural, of which both women are extremely proud.

Celebrating our Bay of Plenty lifestyle, heritage and culture, these artists have worked with a range of mediums to produce stunning visual works. The works will be judged by Labour MP Steve Chadwick, sister of well-known artist Dick Frizzel.

The winner will take home a prize package valued at $950, donated by Creative Tauranga.

Arch Te Puke has also helped create another vibrant display by collaborating with several community groups. The Tauranga Regional Multicultural Council are exhibiting costumes and treasured items from their Travelling Suitcase Exhibition, which celebrates new residents to Te Puke. Represented nations include Italy, India, Nepal and the South Pacific Islands.

Under wraps at the moment, but sure to make an outstanding display, are large floral sculptures from the Te Puke Floral Art group. Created carefully under the theme "Plentiful and Rugby", this will feature lots of local floral and mixed-medium content.

If you've got a hankering to be creative, Te Puke Spinning Club also has creations on display and for sale, and conducts regular demonstrations and workshops.

Arohanui School artists are a keen group of about 12 students with special needs, who work from their own studio and have produced works for their themed exhibition, Kiwiana.

The art of photography hasn't been forgotten, either, as Creative Te Puke is holding its annual photography competition. Organised by Grant Dally, the event will feature the work of 10 photographers.

"Arch Te Puke is supported by community groups and businesses such as Te Puke Lions, Kiwi Coast Lions, Te Puke and Maketu Rotary Clubs, Focus Te Puke, Q-print, Te Puke Hotel, Te Puke Florist, Gift-Rapt and Creative Tauranga," said Creative Tauranga's Mr Beech.

"These people have been amazing and so supportive with everything, including security."

The multi-level venue at 74 Jellicoe St, Te Puke, will host Arch Te Puke's exhibition when it opens to the public on Friday, September 23 until October 22. It runs Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm, and Saturdays from 10am to 1pm. Admission is by gold coin.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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