Four local artists have been selected for the Gwen Malden Te Matau-a-Māui Contemporary Art Commissions, a new biennial programme of significant contemporary art commissions, thanks to a partnership between Te Whare Toi o Heretaunga Hastings Art Gallery and the Gwen Malden Charitable Trust.
The four artists, Leslie Falls, Nephi Tupaea, Kezia Whakamoe, and Bernie Winkels, each receive $10,000, alongside additional support from the Gallery, to develop a new body of work, which will be exhibited at Te Whare Toi o Heretaunga in July this year.
The four recipients were selected by a panel of contemporary art advocates balancing local knowledge with outside perspectives. It included Serena Bentley (Senior Curator Tauranga Art Gallery), Sophie Davis (Hastings Art Gallery), Ayesha Green (artist), Aaron Lister (Senior Curator City Gallery Wellington) and Sacha van den Berg (gallerist and founder of Hastings’ Ākina gallery).
Hastings Art Gallery Curator and Manager Sophie Davis says the selection panel had a robust conversation in selecting the first four recipients of the commission.
“Our selectors felt that each of these artists have something unique to say in this time and place. It’s been really exciting to start talking to Nephi, Leslie, Bernie and Kezia about their ambitions for their work,” she says.
“We are grateful to the Gwen Malden Trust for investing in artists and platforming local arts at a time where the creative community is facing big challenges.”
For Gwen Malden Charitable Trust chairperson, Tessa Tylee, the opportunity to celebrate local artists to create new work was an important one.
“The Gwen Malden Charitable Trust is very excited to be part of this exhibition which celebrates our Hawke’s Bay artists,” Ms Tylee says.
About the artists
Using a variety of materials and drawing processes, Leslie Falls’ work explores the value of labour, particularly in the domestic environment, and how repetition plays a role in making sense of the world.
Born in Chicago USA, Falls has lived in Te Matau-a-Māui for more than 40 years and has exhibited throughout Aotearoa and the United States. She has taught art in Hawke’s Bay at secondary and tertiary institutions, as well as at Hawke’s Bay Regional Prison. In 2007 she completed an MFA from Whitecliffe College and Arts and Design, Auckland.
Nephi Tupaea (Ngāti Koata, Ngāti Tiipa, Ngāti Koroki Kahukura, Ngāti Kahungunu) is a multi-media artist and long-standing member of the artist collective Pacific Sisters, and a member of Iwi Toi Kahungunu. Her practice explores storytelling and identity through experimenting with fashion, dance, installation, body adornment, and most recently, the traditions of kōwhaiwhai and Western Modernist painting. In 2024 Tupaea completed a Bachelor of Māori Visual Art at Toimairangi, Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
Kezia Whakamoe Kezia Whakamoe (Tūhoe, Ngāti Ruapani) is a multi-disciplinary artist exploring rongoā toi (art as a medicine) as both a personal and collective practice in transformative justice. Rooted in mātauranga Māori, her installation and performance work often incorporates ritual practices, natural materials, and her own body to centre healing and mana motuhake – self-determination and sovereignty.
Whakamoe has exhibited extensively in Te Matau-a-Maui and has recently collaborated with Te Tīmatanga, working with Rosanna Raymond, Pounamu Rurawhe, Kiriana Sheree and Hāmiora Bailey for Auckland Pride. She is also a member of Kauae Raro Research Collective, employing tuākana-tēina based mātauranga, and has an MFA in Māori Visual Art from Massey University.
Known for his satirical and irreverent style, Bernie Winkels has an eclectic art practice spanning ceramics, painting, drawing, sculpture, and installation. His works often comment on everyday life, embracing the playful and absurd. He gathers snippets of written and visual material from current affairs, social media, advertising, and Aotearoa’s history, reworking them in unexpected and often humorous ways.
Bernie has a prolific exhibition practice in the central north island as well as exhibiting nationally. He is a graduate of Te Pūkenga EIT.
For more information about the Gwen Malden Te Matau-a-Māui Contemporary Art Commissions, please go to www.hastingscityartgallery.co.nz/news