Part of the role of MTG Hawke's Bay is to engage people with the arts outside of the building.
With that in mind, the museum has for some time hosted tours of public artworks in the city of Napier. These tours are great for those who want to get to know public art a little better, and consider what those works have to say about the world we live in.
Cities around the world gain value through public art and those with a rich offering of public art become places people want to live in or visit, and therein lies the seed of cultural, social, and economic value.
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In Napier, public art is a distinguishing part of its public history and evolving culture. From the detailed embellishments on the Art Deco building facades, to the extraordinary work along Marine Parade by Jacob Scott.
These artworks tell stories that reflect the time they were created in but also represent histories in their design. In the case of Scott's fine example of experience design on Marine Parade, the work is also about the future, in that it's the creation of an active, social space for community to be in.
Public art is also freely accessible. In Napier and Hastings, there are amazing opportunities to see world class artists as you go about your day-to-day life.
At the front of MTG, the recent acquisition of a sculpture by international superstar Tony Cragg is a pearler of a piece. In Hastings, Neil Dawson's iconic orb hangs in suspension overtop the mall. What a wonderful opportunity to live with first-rate art for everyone who resides in these places.
Public art also humanises the built environment and as our urban spaces become more intense and pressures on our own lives increase, public art softens our spaces through empathy and reflection.
Laurie Karasek's piece in the Sunken Gardens on Marine Parade is a gem. This whimsically biomorphic sculpture, "bio" meaning life and "morphic" meaning form, has qualities of living forms, something we instantly recognise and connect with on a primal level. A necessary anecdote to harsher elements of the built environment.
But maybe, most importantly for us, public art gives us a particular community identity, especially in terms of what our cities look like. That's becoming even more important in a world where everyplace tends to looks like everyplace else.
In Napier, a good number of public artworks represent the stories of this place. For example the wonderful artwork by Sarah Hughes and Gregor Kregar on the façade of MTG.
This sculptural piece riffs off objects from the collection inside the building, what an amazing way to share something entirely unique to this place.
All of these public artworks were made by creative people who captured the heart and soul of their cultural milieu and in that sense are an expression our human identities.
With this in mind MTG staff host public art walking tours of Napier throughout the year. Hastings City Art Gallery also do wonderful public art tours through Hastings.
These are both a great chance to appreciate the wonderful stories that the public art of Hawke's Bay can tell us. Keep an eye out for next tour dates on MTG's Facebook page and website.
- Toni MacKinnon is MTG arts curator
MTG Movie Club: For My Father's Kingdom. MTG Century Theatre, Saturday, March 21, 3pm. Tickets $10 for general admission, $5 for Friends of MTG. Tickets available from the front desk at MTG or through Eventfinda.
Napier Hill Cemetery Tour. Old Napier Cemetery, Sunday, March 29, 2pm. Tickets $20 for general admission, $15 for Friends of MTG. Tickets available from the front desk at MTG and through Eventfinda.