Southern ties

Three printmakers, whose connection goes back almost 30 years, will open a joint exhibition at Frankton’s Te Atamira this Saturday, celebrating Southland.

‘Ko Murihiku Toku Whaea — Southern Mother’, features the work of Kyla Cresswell, Emma Riha Kitson and Kim Lowe, who met at the Dunedin School of Art in 1993.

They studied under acclaimed artist Marilyn Webb, who encouraged them to explore the depths of their ancestry an identities, value a connection to a place, and believe in their strengths and voices.

Each of the artists have a connection to Murihiku through whakapapa or family connections.

Kitson is a descendant of Kai Tahu ki Murihiku, while Cresswell and Lowe both grew up in Murihiku and are descendants of Southland settlers.

The works in their exhibition respond to the natural environment of the ‘great Southern mother’, Murihiku.

In a joint statement, they say there’s a feeling in the region of being ‘‘lightly tethered to the wild land beneath’’.

‘‘Vast skies, far-reaching horizon lines, and expansive sea.

‘‘Inland, landforms loom high, and mountain caps feed the bitterly cold awa.

‘‘The rich resources of the area have attracted generations of people, however, the harsh climate has put off just as many.

‘‘Among Southlanders exists a strong social fabric, and your whakapapa — along with the weather — is often the first topic of introduction.’’

For each, the printmaking process allows different forms of expression — Kitson loves its connections to historical revolutionary movements and the technical possibilities for play and experimentation, while Cresswell enjoys the progression from mark-making to the printed image, and the distinctive elements each process gives to the end result.

For Lowe, it’s all about working in reverse and taking tiny steps, following a traditional and time-laden process.

Te Atamira development director Olivia Egerton says they’re excited to showcase the way three well-known printmakers explore the local environment.

‘‘We are so fortunate to be sitting underneath the mighty Kawarau, so to have an exhibition that explores our distinctive and natural surroundings is really exciting,’’ she says.

The exhibition opens with an artists’ talk on Saturday, from 11am, then Lowe will host an ink workshop this Sunday, from 11am, while Cresswell will hold an introduction to drypoint on August 27 and 28, both starting at 10am.

The exhibition runs till September 14.

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