SANDY BAY © Sonia Fraser
As the calendar turns towards February, anticipation fills the air in Mahurangi, heralding the arrival of the Mahurangi Artist Studio Trail (MAST2024). This annual celebration of artistic expression invites art enthusiasts and curious minds to embark on a journey through the studios of talented local artists. This year, the Mahurangi Artist Network proudly welcomes nine new first-time participants, each bringing their unique flair to the vibrant tapestry of creativity that defines this community.
Diverse Talents Unveiled
The line-up of new artists for MAST2024 features an eclectic mix of artistic disciplines, showcasing the rich diversity within the Mahurangi Artist Network. Painters Sonia Fraser, Hazel Hunt, and Pamela Harland, jeweller Sarah Johns, fine-art photographer Jonathan Bourla, glass artist Julz Beaumont, potters Alexis Waterhouse and Joy Zaloum, and wood-turner Alan Raney collectively contribute to the artistic splendour awaiting visitors from February 2nd to 11th.
Some of these artists will open the doors to their personal studios, some forming intimate multi-artist trail venues, while others will display their creations at Trail Central in the Warkworth Town Hall. This fusion of individual and collective expressions promises a dynamic experience for art lovers and Trail enthusiasts alike.
Unveiling the Motivation Behind the Art
A burning questions echoes through the minds of many: Why participate in the Art Trail this year? For Julz Beaumont, it was the encouragement and support of fellow members that drew her into the Mahurangi artist community, a sentiment echoed by many. Sarah Johns expresses gratitude for the collective artistic energy, finding joy in showcasing her jewellery pieces during the upcoming Trail. Sonia Fraser, another first-time Trail participant, sees it as an opportunity to promote herself as a local Mahurangi artist, while Hazel Hunt seeks to expand her artistic horizons and connect with fellow art lovers. For Joy Zaloum, it's about reaching a wider audience and forging connections with local artists, while Pamela Harland sees this as a fresh start to exhibiting her paintings.
Drawing Inspiration from Nature's Canvas
The artists reveal their wellsprings of inspiration, offering a glimpse into the creative process. Sonia Fraser finds inspiration in fleeting moments and glimpses of nature, often drawing from her walks and holiday photos around New Zealand for her landscape and seascape paintings, "It could be wild windy skies, twisted malformed trees sculptured by the wind, an aqua blue tranquil sea, or a moody misty landscape. These recognisable images and motifs are the start of a painting which often is fabricated from several scenes." Whereas fellow painter, Pamela Harland's New Dimension art journey began with a fascination for the quality of light in New Zealand, especially reflections on water, harmonizing colours, and playing with light and dark. While Alexis Waterhouse was motivated to find a creative use of the clay washed down off the Kaipara Hills after the recent cyclones that led her to experiment with taking 'wild' clay and mixing it with other natural products like sand to make usable clay that will withstand our modern kilns. Wood turning is Alan Raney's favourite medium, "I like working with New Zealand native woods and experimenting, designing shapes that are elegant as well as functional. The grain colours and details of native woods is so varied, which can be a surprise when I start to turn a piece on the lathe, so deciding on the grain direction for best effect can enhance a bowl and a vase."
Mediums that Speak Volumes
Delving into their chosen mediums, the artists articulate the reasons behind their preferences. Working with glass, Julz Beaumont highlights the unpredictable nature of the material, its unique personality and the endless possibilities it presents to a creative mind. Whereas from a jewellers context, Sarah Johns speaks of her love for the depth of perspective that art can inspire, "my creations are very inspired by nature, and I like to use the finest of materials to represent its majestic beauty." Working with clay, Joy Zaloum appreciates the flexibility it offers, from hand sculpting to wheel work, and the sheer fun of experimenting with glazes. While fellow potter Alexis Waterhouse is drawn to clay's earthy and grounding nature, "you can't work on a pottery wheel and be daydreaming or stressing about something - you need to be fully present and focussed, total mindfulness".
As we prepare for the Mahurangi Artist Studio Trail 2024, these artists invite us to explore their worlds, each stroke, form, and creation offering a glimpse into the vibrant palette of Mahurangi's artistic community. Join us in celebrating creativity, diversity, and the boundless expressions that make MAST2024 an unmissable artistic journey.