Today I had the pleasure of visiting Cobalt, the studio gallery of artist Christopher White and his wife Thérèse Greenlees at Paraparaumu Beach. The gallery presents emerging and established contemporary artists from the Kapiti Coast region and beyond in group shows several times a year, but is quieter over winter, running weekend hours and currently has a selection of White’s works on show.
The galley takes up a floor of White’s art deco home on Manly street and has gallery space in two rooms, although the back room is only open for larger shows and in summer. The beach-facing space at the front has the most amazing light and the typical stark white gallery walls are warmed by native timber flooring and original ornate deco light fittings.
White was born in the United Kingdom and has lived in New Zealand since 1998. He graduated from the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts in London with an honours degree in illustration and graphic design. He has worked as an illustrator for various magazines including the Sunday Times, the World Wide Fund for Nature, and Thames and Hudson and has recently returned to illustration with the his work on the children’s book Dad’s Takeaways. Since moving to New Zealand he has completed a masters degree in Fine Arts at Elam, Auckland University. Chris now teaches drawing, printmaking and painting at Whitireia Polytechnic in Wellington.
The works on display were a variety of media and styles. For me the most striking were Lazaret and Marine Passage both encaustic oil paintings on board from 2005. The latter in heavily textured white and cobalt blue was very reminiscent in tone of the Antarctic works I’d seen at the Dowse on Friday.
It was a great opportunity to sit and have a cuppa with Chris to discuss the galleries aims and ideas and life the universe and everything…:-) I was looking for something different from the rest of the galleries in the area and Chris and Thérèse seem to be providing it here by keeping things simple, not over commercialising and providing carefully selected high quality shows. Chris is passionate about art, community and participation while being cognisant of issues of innovation, retaining a high standard of work and fostering promising young artists and local talent.
One such artist is Dwaine Aiolupotea. Inspired by faasamoa (Samoan way of life) and Christian imagery, Aiolupoteas work explores the Spiritual elements of Christianity and his cultural identity as a New Zealand born Samoan. Most recently, much of his work aims to question sacred things or objects that relate to religious and cultural issues.
I look forward to seeing what Cobalt has to offer in future shows and nice to meet people so committed to the arts.