News | 21 April 2022
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Journey to Kilbirnie - smashing the C19 ice

Rosa Allison and Oliver Dorman, fresh from London bring Journey to Kilbirnie to Toi Pōneke Arts Centre, a response to the uncertain times, to their hopes and dreams and navigating their new life in Wellington.

Artwork by Rosa Allison
Artwork by Rosa Allison

The pair emigrated from London to Kilbirnie in 2020 - hence Journey to Kilbirnie. The exhibition at Toi Pōneke from 30 April – 27 May brings together a selection of abstract and figurative paintings which arose from sketch booking, a technique which provided the pair a creative outlet throughout the uncertainties of MIQ, lockdowns and settling into Wellington.

Rosa echoes the theme of a journey quite literally in the form of a boot motif. The heels are high, blocky, and determined. These are the boots she wore every day when she first moved to London, still being a farm girl at heart with a bad sense of direction. Her paintings combine oil and charcoal applied liberally on raw canvas. 

Rosa’s recent paintings are pared back, echoing sketchbook energy. She is on an ongoing mission to make paintings that are as spontaneous as her drawings. “The speed of pen and paper allows strangeness to slip out before self-censorship,” she says. Rosa’s motif of the balancing egg is about fragility and fertility - one comes with the other. Uncertain times are also fertile for new ideas and inspiration. 

Oliver’s recent paintings reflect his individual style developed from years of wood carving, painting and travels in Europe. 

On top of the washy dreamy backdrops are clean geometric lines that appear to hover. These lines frame parts of the background and direct our focus towards the abstract field of brush marks where forms and figures emerge. 

These semi-recognisable forms reflect Oliver’s fascination with ambiguous symbols such as those on Tarot cards, symbols that can be decoded and used to make sense of our internal worlds. His paintings invite long contemplation, as different meanings emerge in the observation process. 

In their literal, emotional and artistic journey, Rosa and Oliver were each-others harshest critics, and greatest support, culminating in a show that will appeal and captivate Wellington audiences. 

Toi Pōneke Arts Centre is where our city’s arts communities interact, produce, innovate, teach and exhibit. Situated at 61 Abel Smith Street, Toi Pōneke Gallery is open 10am – 8pm weekdays, 10am – 4pm weekends, closed public holidays. Free entry.