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Land, sea and sky under one roof at Suter

MARTIN DE RUYTER/STUFF                     Artists Peter Copp, left, Sue Newitt, Lauren Kitts and Gary Gibbens with their work at the Land, Sea and Sky exhibition hosted by the Nelson Suter Art Society.

Four artists combine 260 years of experience in an exhibition in the McKee Gallery at the Suter in Nelson.

Land, Sea and Sky is a Nelson Suter Art Society exhibition featuring sculptor Lauren Kitts, potter Sue Newitt and painters Peter Copp and Gary Gibbens.

Of the four, Gibbens gives the most literal interpretation of the theme. Having lived for many years in Tapawera and Kiwi, the mountains of the Arthur range have been a dominating backdrop to his life.

It’s not just the mountains close to home that feature in the exhibition, with many works featuring the southern alps. Gibbens also finds room for more intimate scenes. One of his favourites features a quiet road on the west bank of the Motueka River.

A painter by day, he’s inspired by the changing landscape of the mountains on his doorstep.

A self confessed night owl, Ruby Bay painter Peter Copp picks up his brushes when the sun goes down.

Views from his home, from the family bach in Awaroa, the estuaries close to home or D’Urville Island inspire his work, where the landscape is recognisable but takes a subordinate role to the big skies that tower above.

Skies and seas are portrayed as semi-abstract forms, often as if viewed through different prisms, with slabs of sky seemingly lifted and shifted to suggest wind and sudden changes. Colour rules, Copp working instinctively in a kind of conversation with each work, changing and reworking the surface until he’s happy that it’s done.

A recent arrival in the region, sculptor Lauren Kitts has set up a gallery and sculpture park on 6.5ha in Tasman.

With degrees in fine arts and social sciences, Kitts is preoccupied not just with the natural environment, but with uncertainty and change – often caused by man.

She works in wood, stone and bronze, but all five of her works in this exhibition are in stone, much of it sourced locally.

After working with clay for 35 years, Tasman potter Sue Newitt has an easy fluency with the technical side of making pots, using white stoneware and porcelain that focuses on usable domestic ware.

Although the focus may be on domestic vessels, there’s an easy transition to a more sculptural feel – still dealing with the basic domestic ware elements.

And so her large bowls move away from rigid stylisation to relaxed, undulating rims, soft feet and trailed lines of porcelain slip, which could be contour lines on volcanic craters – all covered in deep, often brightly coloured glazes.

Her tall vase forms are first thrown, then wrapped in fabric soaked in liquid porcelain, the fabric burning away during the firing to leave loose and sometimes translucent overcoats.

Land, Sea and Sky continues at the McKee Gallery until August 7.

Credit: Peter Gibbs, Stuff

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