On the arts life of Hastings in 2021.

On a Monday evening, less than 24 hours after Walk of Wonders closed at Blackbarn with a fantastic season of night delights, I had the pleasure of attending two art events in the Hastings CBD.

My evening started with the exhibition opening “Coming Home to Roost”, an epic collection of rooks, in the form of large scale ceramics works by Morag Shaw, complemented by artist Katharine White’s oil painted rotondos at the Hastings Community Arts Centre. The work of both artists is highly refined, beautifully poetic and definitely one out of the box.

Morag’s rookery is at first quite imposing in size, scale and monochromatic palette, but surrounded by Katharina’s super realistic oil paintings of rooks in all their stances, one cannot help but discover the beauty and endearing qualities of this intelligent bird species. I lost count of how many rooks have populated the arts centre for this exhibition, but I already know that I will miss them once the exhibition is over in a couple of weeks. 

Then I made my way to Toitoi Arts and Events Centre where Footnote Dance Company have chosen to present the last two performances of their latest work Dance, Danced, Dancing (2021) choreographed by Josie Archer & Kosta Bogoievski. A unique work that takes great pleasure and care with the improvisational possibilities of one single performance.

And what a joy it was to be taken on this journey by five playful dancers and their lighting operator with humour, beauty, skill, moments of irreverence and at one point all fully undressed, referencing the aesthetics of Michelangelo’s High Renaissance art through their most deliberate and precise improvisation work. A delightful experience of contemporary dance that was uplifting, entertaining and beautifully executed by this group of artists. 

How brilliant for a Monday night in Hastings! I am feeling proud of our artists and touring companies who dare to bring us beauty, sophistication, and deep meaning in a time of global upheaval and chaos everywhere we look, right here in the heart of Hastings, in world class facilities.

These experiences were hard on the heels of launching our 7th Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival programme last Tuesday with a central theme of “Be Open”. A fitting focus I believe, in a period of our lives where change has challenged us all and we must find new ways of living, working, communicating and interacting and getting used to new circumstances with constantly changing rules. The world has changed, and we have to change with it.

We chose to bring you a programme of predominantly new works by artists from all over Aotearoa and Hawke’s Bay with a sprinkling of old favourites in a celebration of our arts, culture, and diversity, through theatre, verbatim and otherwise, with music from Folk to Flamenco, Country to Opera, Hip Hop to R’nB and Punk Noir to Taonga Puoro and some rarely seen chamber music.  

We have storytelling in all its forms including comedy, circus and physical theatre as well as dance, movement and clown alongside a stunning literary programme presented in association with the Hawke’s Bay Readers & Writers Festival.

Photo by: Kelly Nash

There are free works on offer as well with Dream Garden in Hastings and one highlight being Mana Wahine, a contemporary dance work at Napier’s Municipal Theatre, kicking off the festival programme and Nuit Blanche – Art after Dark, which promises an evening of art discoveries suitable for all the family 

We invite you to explore our festival programme. Be open to new experiences that will enrich your mind, care for your soul and delight all your senses right here in the heart of Hawke’s Bay.

How far we have come!

For more details please visit hbaf.co.nz

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