Fine Arts Whanganui is holding an exhibition for its members called Whanganui Now. The collective perspective is each artist's take on Whanganui, a theme which has delivered a range of works and individual views.
"We often get people in here asking if we've got Whanganui works," says Jim Norris. "We decided to make some."
Craig Hooker has produced oil paintings of the upper reaches of the Whanganui River, including a view looking back to the Whanganui from Manganui o te Ao, a large tributary 10 kilometres north of Pipiriki. He saw it when on a jet boat trip.
"On the way back, I said to the skipper, can we just shoot up there? I want to take a shot looking out."
The works are reminiscent of Victorian oil paintings of local scenes, rich in colour, detail and depth. Certainly representational but somehow "more" than a photograph.
Laura Buchanan is a newcomer to the collective. She has a close-up photograph of the head of Tainui, Joan Morrell statue at Virginia Lake of a young Maori woman, weeping for her slain lover, Turere. Legend says her tears created Virginia Lake (Rotokawau).
"People tend to walk past her, so they'll be familiar with her face, but ask, 'Where is she?'" Laura photographed Tainui just after rain had fallen, so a bronze tear created by Joan Morrell is joined by a real tear of rain. Laura knows the story of Tainui and her photograph shows that sympathy for Tainui and Turere.
Laura is mostly a ceramicist and she has other work around the gallery.
"I've always taken photos … I'm really loving the opportunity to be able to share my work."
Varna S Tharayil has departed from her colourful resin work to create a painting especially for the exhibition. Her work represents a bend in the Whanganui River. Varna won the Starting Point exhibition at Open Studios this year.
Kris Lott's painting depicts the corner of Victoria Avenue and Taupo Quay, the vacant lot left by the destruction of Thain's building in a fire last year.
"I see it almost every day when I come into town. I love the barrenness of the space …" Kris has used and incorporated several different angles into the same scene so the background contains more than you would see from any one perspective. "I was trying to capture a snapshot of multiple parts, exposing parts you never see, but also breaking it down."
Seeing it every day, she says she has seen it change and has incorporated those changes into the work. This painting is a departure from her usual style.
Frances Sim-Higgins has two paintings in acrylic, both scenes at Bason Botanic Gardens in Rapanui Rd.
"One is the entrance to the cottage garden, and the other is the gazebo. We're lucky in Whanganui to have beautiful places like that." Both scenes are filled with flowers, and while some were present at the time, the rest is the result of artistic licence, the blooming season for many had passed. These works are a departure from her current, usual work, but is more reminiscent of what she used to do at art school.
"I'm happy painting gardens." Frances is a keen gardener herself and has a large garden at her Rapanui home. She listens to audio books while she paints. "It's like one half of the brain is engaged [with the audio book] and the other half is immersed in this [the painting]."
Jim Norris is a photographer, painter, sculptor and printmaker. He has two photographs in the exhibition, both of sea birds, both taken on the Whanganui estuary behind Imlay Freezing Works.
"Those are bar-tailed godwits, both of which have now flown to Alaska." Jim combines his love of ornithology with his love of art. He says they breed and nest in the northern Alaskan tundra. The peninsular from which many return on a 12000km direct flight to New Zealand, is the Seward Peninsular in Alaska.
To Jim, the subject is just as important as the art.
The other photo is of a wrybill. "That's another migrant that comes into Whanganui. It's the only bird in the world with a bill that's bent sideways.
"I've been interested in birds since I was about 10 and I also have an interest in photography. When I retired I had time to wander round waiting for the birds to appear."
Guy Wood says, "I was recruited from Artists Open Studios: Craig [Hooker] came and saw my stuff. So then I was invited to a committee meeting." Now, for the past month or so, Guy has been part of the Fine Arts collective. Guy and his wife are relatively new to Whanganui.
He has two paintings in the exhibition, both of Whanganui buildings: the AE Kitchen building and the front Doors to the old Fosters Tavern, now a decorative outside part of Stellar Bar.
Both buildings are part of Guy's everyday life. "I go in and out of that door [Fosters] and that [Kitchen building] is opposite, more or less. I don't see them as architectural, I see them more as a portrait of a building.
I work from a photograph, but only as a vague reference to get proportions. I wanted to strip it back to the building itself, to the character of the building. It's got a history, a heritage, bigger than the users." Guy has taken away all the added decoration like hanging baskets, outside tables and everything except the structures themselves.
The paintings have a winter bleakness about them, but a small daffodil gives colour to the Fosters painting.
Lindsay Marsh's contribution is a small, acrylic painting of Castlecliff's North Mole on a grey day. The sea is splashing against points at the end and along the side of the structure and the huge concrete blocks add angles and lots of light and shade.
"My base colour was grey, and I just added the black and bits here and there until it came together." she makes it sound so simple.
Whanganui Now is an exhibition by accomplished artists and will be at Fine Arts Whanganui in Taupo Quay for a month.