This exhibition focuses on the lives and influence of two important people in New Zealand’s history, Suzanne Aubert and James K Baxter. ‘The Sister & the Poet: Jerusalem’ presents a body of printmaking works by MB Stoneman, reflecting personal philosophies based on research and residency at the old convent in Jerusalem/Hiruharama.
Taranaki artist MB Stoneman developed this body of twenty one works following a series of visits and retreats since 2011 to the original home of the Home of Compassion, up the Whanganui river. “The convent, St Joseph’s church, the Sister’s house and surrounding gardens are very well cared for. The whole place seems to evoke a feeling of being looked after – that’s how I felt there. Because of its isolation and quiet pace, it invites contemplation and reflection. I read a lot of books while I was there, drawing on the wealth of words written by Aubert and Baxter, their philosophies are all tied in with the energy at Hiruharama. It’s a unique and special place.” Stoneman says.
While Aubert & Baxter lived in Jerusalem/Hiruharama at different times and were from very different backgrounds, Stoneman found that fundamentally they had much in common. “They had many similarities and shared philosophies. Both in their forties when they arrived at Jerusalem – James K Baxter was 42, Suzanne Aubert was 48. They cared for others and believed love/aroha was the most important thing over all. They both held a strong attraction and affinity to Māori culture. They were both Catholic. They both established at Jerusalem a safe environment where orphans and people struggling with society – foundlings in Mother Aubert’s time, Ngā Mōkai in Baxter’s – were welcomed and cared for.”
The works demonstrate a diverse exploration of printmaking techniques and processes, including mezzotint, steel etching, blind embossing, collograph, letterpress, cyanotype and photography. Stoneman says “My art practice explores etching and relief printmaking processes, often linking our natural world to the human condition. I deeply enjoy the historical origins and alchemy of the medium, the physicality of creating the matrix and the magic of pulling a print. The printmaking process relates to connectivity to materials and tools, meditation, repetition, experimentation and technical challenges. I construct landscape and figurative works that reference my interest in science, symbols, history, nature and language.”
The exhibition includes a publication of images, a personal essay and poetry.
Read this interview with MB Stoneman from Percy Thomson Gallery about this body of work.
MB Stoneman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org