Taranaki artist Fiona Clark's new exhibition at NPDC's Govett-Brewster Art Gallery opens this month and includes local figures from the artist's past including renowned Opunake bodybuilder Quentin Smith.

The title of Fiona's exhibition, Raw Material, hints at untreated or unedited material, and makes reference to the exhibition's focus on a careful selection of elements from her own extensive archive.

As part of her exhibition, Fiona has been researching and tracking down people who are connected to her photographs.

This included appealing to the Opunake community for related materials on the 1958 Mr New Zealand, Quentin Smith, that she could show in her exhibition.

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Mr New Zealand Quentin Smith, 1960. Photo by Royale of London, private collection.
Mr New Zealand Quentin Smith, 1960. Photo by Royale of London, private collection.

Fiona's exhibition includes photographs from her bodybuilding series, first exhibited at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in 1981.

"A key role for our gallery is to support and foster the work of Taranaki artists and we are delighted to be exhibiting Fiona's work nearly 40 years after her first exhibition," says Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre co-directors Aileen Burns and Johan Lundh.

Growing up in Opunake, Quentin was a naturally gifted swimmer and surfer, whose interest in physical strength and fitness led him to pursue weightlifting and bodybuilding in his teens.

At age 20, Quentin won the Mr New Zealand Contest, and in 1959 went on to compete in the Mr Universe contest at the London Palladium, representing the best in bodybuilding.

Quentin's international success saw him feature in the pages of 'muscle' and bodybuilding magazines.

He retired from bodybuilding contests shortly after, when only 22 years of age, following 11 months in the United States, attending college and the US national weightlifting championships.

Visitors to the exhibition will also see images of the artist herself and in past personas as a dancer and an art student, her aunt's hockey mate Valerie Deakin, who went to choreograph at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, and prominent dancer Da Katipa.

The artist establishes relationships with the people in her photographs, researching and linking people connected via her work.

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Clark grew up in Taranaki and now lives in Tikorangi. As a student at Inglewood High School she found an interest in contemporary art under the tutelage of Leon Narbey a renowned cinematographer and the first artist to exhibit at Govett-Brewster Art Gallery at its opening in 1970.