Toi Pōneke exhibition centre of collaboration

17 February 2015

Master of Fine Arts graduates from Massey University Maria O’Toole and Connah Podmore met at art school and discovered a number of shared interests that led them to create In Response – their first collaborative exhibition at Toi Pōneke.

Maria O'Tooles New Beginnings

Maria O'Toole - New Beginnings


In Response is a collection of drawings, photographs, and writing made specifically for Toi Pōneke, who the artists have been working with since early last year.

“Toi Pōneke and the Emerging Artists Trust have been with us from the project’s beginning and have been an incredible support,” says Podmore.

The collaboration grew from an idea for an experiment: the artists would work separately, but in response to the work of the other by meeting fortnightly to share new artworks.

“This seemingly simple approach,” says O’Toole “has brought about surprising results for the both of us, to find uncanny similarities between our works, even though the details weren’t previously discussed.”

O’Toole was a finalist in the 2014 Parkin Drawing Prize, and her work was described by judge, Gregory O’Brien as “a tremor on the surface of all that matters”. Similarly, in this exhibition O’Toole creates abstract drawings that navigate the small details of her everyday actions, and what she describes as the tension between push and pull.

With In Response, O’Toole presents work as a sensory response to both Podmore’s work and her new surrounds in the Cuba precinct/Toi Pōneke area. In particular, O’Toole has played with her sense of the “vulnerability and fragility” of Podmore’s writing and photographs, along with her encounters with Cuba Street in the fragile media of paper, charcoal, graphite and chalks.

Podmore’s work is often made with a particular person or historical place in mind. For this exhibition, she has created a series of photographs and written works inspired by the story of Madame Butterfly, and the Brooklyn bunkers that overlook Wellington Harbour. Like O’Toole, her response to her subjects is more personal than realistic, and it is the small physical details that link these seemingly disparate themes – such as the act of watching the sea and waiting for ships.

“I’m interested in exploring the poetic ties between these subjects and how the feelings that I take from them relate to the way I feel about Maria’s work. The feeling of suspension is what has captured me the most in her work.”

It is these ties that Podmore has worked to convey in her photographs and writing.

In Response opens 5.30pm Thursday 12 March at Toi Pōneke Gallery, 61 Able Smith Street.

A walking-drawing-writing workshop will be held Saturday 14 March, 10.30am–2pm. Podmore and O’ Toole will take participants around public artworks in central Wellington and back to Toi Pōneke to sketch, write, and reflect. If you are interested please contact as spaces are limited.