TWO artists with a long career in the museum sector have just completed a five-week Volcanic Artist Residency in Whakatane.
The residency is offered by Whakatane’s museum and art gallery, and Hannah Bremner, of Wellington, says she and fellow artists documentary maker and photographer Tatsiana Chypsanava, who works as a photographer at Nelson Provincial Museum, took up the residency together because of this connection.
“I have quite a long background as a practising artist and have worked in the heritage sector for almost two decades,” says Hannah.
With a fine arts degree in sculpture, focusing on cast glass, Hannah says they were both keen to experience Whakaari, White Island as well as delve into the collections housed at our newly developed Whakatane Museum and Research Centre.
“We haven’t had much of a chance to do the collections side of things because there has a been a relocation of the collection,” says Hannah, who has done other residencies, including one in Scotland funded by the Scottish Arts Council at North Lands Creative Glass.
“I balance my art-making and my making career alongside my work in the heritage sector.
I have worked in galleries, archives and museums and have always worked in a space where I have been promoting access to collections.”
Working at Te Papa in Wellington, she is involved in a big digitisation programme that is taking place. “My job is very much focused on the information that is generated about the collection and finding ways to make that more accessible to the public.”
Hannah describes her art practice of glass casting as similar to the technique used to create metal sculpture.
“It is a method called lost wax casting and involves quite a lot of process, so you may have a found object or you may make an object and then you take a cast of it to create a wax positive. At the moment I am casting rocks.
“A big part of my practice is creating fake specimens, so my work is very influenced by my other career, very much about that human urge to collect and interpret and maybe question.”
A trip to White Island has provided ample material for her work.
“We wanted to capture and record information about the island and so Tatsiana was taking photographs and recording sound and video and that will come together as part of an installation we will exhibit next year.
“One of the things I did not expect on the island is that you could actually feel movement underneath you, so you feel the real force you are in.
“I was also interested in seeing the remnants of scientific research on the island.”
The artists have also enjoyed other trips around the district. “We have spent some time conducting research at the museum and research centre. There are a few physical barriers at present but there is this opportunity long-term to be able to carry on the research.
“I also have this interest in volcanic glass, obsidian, and there is quite a lot of obsidian around the area, so I have been doing a bit of faux archaeological research and taking records of that research as well.”
Hannah says Tatsiana has been involved in a variety of different projects while she has been here. She also has a close connection to Tuhoe and has whanau here.
They are hoping to return to Whakatane next year for their exhibition.