I am not really alone. I share my bubble with art works which continue to challenge, delight and talk to me. These are two of my favourites.
“Fairground” by Gary Waldrom
If any artist is truly a product of Hawke’s Bay it is Gary Waldrom. I first saw a portrait by him in 1973 and was staggered to find that he was a self-taught farm boy from Waipawa. It was as good in that genre as anything done by my more illustrious art school contemporaries. Since then his career has blossomed as his style and ideas continue to grow.
His recent work has paraded a cast of characters from the fringe of society – sideshow performers, hucksters and “wide boys”, outsiders – often set incongruously in gorgeously painted Central Hawke’s Bay landscapes.
My Gary Waldrom painting is an enigmatic view of a fairground. The lights are ablaze but nobody is there except a woman in the foreground challenging us with a brazen smirk that suggests she knows something important that we don’t know. The early evening sky is the remnant of a searing hot day, but there is a sinister looking ground fog. Something is about to happen but we don’t know what.
“The Tomato Pickers 1” by Joan Trollope
Most of the art adorning my overladen walls is by friends or acquaintances but the artist behind one of my most loved works is largely a mystery to me even though I see her as a key figure in the art life of Hawkes Bay.
On a filial visit to HB in the early 1960s I wandered, without high expectations, into the HBAG&M
(now MTG). To my astonishment, there, amongst the usual suspects, tired flower studies and views of Te Mata Peak, was this wonderfully vibrant oil painting of a group of tomato pickers working in a field. The artist was a lady named Joan Trollope and I know little about her except that she worked here in the 1960s and also exhibited with some like-minded Modernists calling themselves “The Six”.
Her freshness of vision and daring paint handling was a revelation as was the sophisticated interplay between spaces and volumes. The figures, with their beautifully painted kerosene tin buckets, were so expressive and the dusty atmospheric so redolent of Hawkes Bay in high summer.
I don’t know what became of Joan Trollope but she was a trail blazer in a local art scene that was much less receptive than that of today.