Open today is Hastings City Art Gallery's exhibition EAST, showing a vibrant array of creative works by 23 artists and designers who each have a connection to Hawke's Bay.

EAST, recurs every two years yet is always unique, with this year's show extending beyond the Hastings gallery walls and — for the first time — into MTG.

We are pleased to host the work of three participants and have enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate with guest curator Bruce E Phillips, staff at the gallery, and of course the artists.

A video playing near the sea-facing window upstairs features Jacob Scott (Ngāti Kahungunu, Te Arawa, Te Āti Awa, Ngāti Raukawa) giving insight into his landscape design aspects of the Marine Parade Redevelopment: how the new space incorporates stories of mana whenua while encouraging positive interaction between people and the land.


Meanwhile, Auckland-based artist Natalie Robertson (Ngāti Porou) has hung an expansive black and white work on the wall in the main foyer, capturing the attention of all who enter the museum.

It is a photo of a spring, taken at sunrise, with ferns dipping below the perfectly still surface of the water.

It was drawn by family connections, and Natalie went to visit this particular spring at Te Rimu, near the Waiapu River on the East Cape. Her great-great-great-grandparents lived nearby, and Tikapa Marae, Natalie's ancestral meeting house, can be seen from the spring.

A partner photograph titled Puketapu hangs at Hastings City Art Gallery, tracing the subsequent migration of Natalie's forebears south to Heretaunga.

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Her great-great grandfather, George Gillespie Boyd, bought the Silverford mansion located near the marshlands shown in the image.

This purchase illustrates Boyd's financial success within the system of Crown-imposed land laws, yet his descendants such as Natalie also experience the dispossession caused by those same laws – and for which the Crown has since apologised.

In the Heretaunga Tamatea Claims Settlement Bill, the Crown "offers its profound apologies for its actions that alienated you from the whenua that had sustained your ancestors for generations, and deprived you of access to your lakes, rivers, wetlands, and springs".

Which leads back to why Natalie travelled to the spring at Te Rimu.

The third EAST artist at MTG, George Tamihana Nuku (Ngāti Hinemanu, Ngāi Te Upokoiri), is also displaying art at both sites.

His Bottled River installation is now on show at Hastings, while the related full exhibition at MTG, George Nuku: Bottled Ocean 2118, will open to the public on Friday, August 24.

This week George has been busy creating artworks out of plastic with the help of school groups, and with thanks to all those who have brought in their used bottles.

He often shares pieces of advice with the kids — one of which seems to particularly resonate with them.

"You need three things to be a great artist: a pencil, a pencil sharpener, and a rubber. Always keep your pencil sharp, and likewise your thoughts. Sharpen your thoughts as you sharpen your pencil, every day."

• Chamber Music NZ presents Italy's Ensemble Zefiro, playing 17th and 18th-century woodwind instruments. MTG Century Theatre, Thursday, August 16, 7.30pm, tickets $5.50.

• Artist talk with George Nuku about his exhibition Bottled Ocean 2118. MTG Hawke's Bay, Saturday, August 25, 11am, all welcome, free entry.

• Talk, walk and beach clean with curator Jess Mio, starting in the Bottled Ocean 2118 exhibition. Gloves and bags supplied. MTG Hawke's Bay, Saturday, September 1, 10am, all welcome, free entry.

• Jess Mio is curator of art at the Museum Theatre Gallery (MTG) Hawke's Bay.