Viewing art is an experience enjoyed. We look, we think, and maybe we make perceptive decisions about what ‘we’ receive the work to be. But visiting the work with the artist that made I always find to be a much richer experience. Today I was lucky enough to visit the studio and home of Miriam Van Wezel.
We were greeted with a lovely big smile and a hug and invited into her work space first. Filled with the rocks she uses to make her paints, maps of the area she collects them and a clutter of other visual and practical things. Miriam has been practising in New Zealand for 10 years . Moving to New Zealand 15 years ago, from Holland, she had to find her way and found a real connection with the land. Especially with the land where she has a holiday house in the Manukau Harbor Point. Miriam collects the rocks from the eroding cliff from the point and brings them back to her studio where she soaks the rocks and turns them into paints.
From there you enter into her gallery (also a work space when she doesn’t have an exhibition on). The works on display in her gallery were layers upon layers of this rock paint. Building layers to allow the paint to shares it story in the drying. There was also an interactive element of the rocks and materials used that you could pick up and touch. As well as a sculpture that had long legs with a box on top that held many rolled up canvas painted with the various rock pigment. The legs looked like they were ready to run, as though it was running off with the last of whats left of our land, speaking to the corrosion of many of our coast lines.
It always interests me when you are standing in front of work and you are discussing the making or the proposed meaning of the work, how the conversation can lead into much greater topics. This to me is where the work reaches its full potential. Today we started talking about art in New Zealand in comparison to Europe and that confidence seems to be lacking in NZ. Like we are trying to always make things look better than they are, rather than standing up, being confident and proud of what we are doing and making.
The other point I found very interesting and worth mentioning about Miriam is that because she is lucky enough to have a work space that can also be an exhibition space she is able to skip the dealer and self represent. This means her art becomes more affordable but also she is going to be much more engaged with the viewer and the representation of her work.