Whanganui artist Vanessa Edwards creates beautiful, limited edition prints but there is more to them than meets the eye.

Her exhibition Woodpecker and the Kereru is showing at Space Gallery during the two weeks of Whanganui Artists Open Studios and until March 29.

"This body of work started when I attended Tears of Dukwibahl International Indigenous Visual Arts Gathering in 2017," says the artist.

The international gathering held at Evergreen Campus in Olympia, in the United States featured strong New Zealand representation with about 40 Maori artists in attendance.


"I started this body of work there and produced several images around the kereru and the woodpecker," says Edwards.

"That became the title of this show as acknowledgement of our strong racial relationships with our indigenous kin in America and beyond."

Edwards would also learn more about the race riots that occurred at Evergreen College a few months before her visit.

The campus was still recovering, she said, and it had a profound effect on her and on her work.

"On the surface people may gloss over the significance of these images as simply pretty, tribal or 'on trend', not so obvious is the cultural significance present in the works."

Is that a rat lurking in the background of the beautifully patterned bird print and is that a human jawbone in another?

The concept of absence is explored throughout the works which are limited to two prints for each one.

Space Studio and Gallery owner Sarah Williams will exhibit some of her own works in the gallery shop this year.

Formerly event manager for Whanganui Artists Open Studios, Williams handed the reins to Kelly Scarrow this year and looks forward to experiencing the event as a venue host this time.

The stockroom and upstairs studios will also be open to visitors during open studios.

Space Studio and Gallery: Woodpecker and the Kereru — Vanessa Edwards in conjunction with the Artists' Open Studios 2018.