Supreme award winners of the Tauranga Art Gallery Miles Art Awards, Mandy Hague, Marianna Bullmore and Lea-Anne Sheather, are presenting the ideas and artworks that have occupied them since winning the award in a new joint exhibition named The Supremes.

The Miles Art Awards is a biennial award and exhibition established in memory of Venetta Miles (1913-92), who was one of the gallery's earliest donors.

In The Supremes, the artists explore the common themes of the human impact on the natural environment that includes notions of life, death, beauty, growth and decay.

Mandy Hague, who won the Supreme Award in 2010 with her work Mackerel in Tomato Sauce, continues her exploration of environmental matters with her acute observation of nature.

I have been drawn to nature for as long as I can remember, with a desire for a scientific understanding of animals and plants


Her practice encompasses painting and photography and clever use of existing historical ornithological/botanical prints that require the viewer to examine them very closely and consider their meaning.

"I have been drawn to nature for as long as I can remember, with a desire for a scientific understanding of animals and plants," Mandy explains. "In creating detailed works I am required to intimately study and appreciate the wonder of nature but, at the same time, I mourn the impact we humans are having upon the natural world.

"My work deals with tensions created by the juxtaposition of natural with man-made, beauty with ugliness, and growth with decay. Sometimes it is underlying and subtle but it always seems to be there," she says.

Marianna Bullmore took home the Supreme Award in 2012. Her work was titled A Cross to the Other Side, Dedicated to My Father Whom I Still Miss Every Day, In My Heart You Are Forever. Marianna's father Edward Bullmore (1933-78) was one of New Zealand's earliest surrealist visual artists.

For Marianna, painting is a means of processing and gaining a deeper understanding of experiences. She explains that her work for The Supremes represents growth and moving forward with a renewed sense of purpose, as well as awareness of her immortality and the transitory nature of life.

The titles are like conversations; personal messages to those living and deceased


"The cross, a universal symbol, underpins my work. It provides the structure and represents the concepts of life and death, suffering and triumph, spirit and matter.
Through my life I have experienced the loss of loved ones and other trauma which have profoundly affected me."

Lea-Anne Sheather, Supreme winner in 2014 with Tipping Point, reflects on the interconnectedness of life forms and the human interference with nature.

"The wonder that is intrinsic within nature I depict through the intensity and density of co-existing forms, colours and textures, within a tightly-packed space. I want the energy to be waiting to burst forth," she says.

The Supremes opens at the Tauranga Art Gallery on Saturday, September 19. The exhibition can be seen in the Cube gallery space until November 1.