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Ambience of summer captured in art



Three standout artists with widely diverse designs, skills and talent, made for an impressive showcase at Mangawhai Art Gallery’s recent exhibit.

The striking brilliance of colour from photographic artist Jeanette Vickers’ water scenes, the almost-tangible real-life landscapes of Leslie Cleary, and Marina Bagley’s realistic natural portraits and abstract colourful designs, all reflected the title of their exhibit, ‘Moods of Summer’ which ran from February 10–20.

“Our work could not be more different from each other,” Vickers says. “We all have different styles and use different material so our art would have either clashed or be so different as to meld together somehow.”

‘Moods of Summer’ has proved popular with viewers, attracting large numbers with up to 250 people taking in the art in only one day.

“We’ve had wonderful comments about all of our work and some sales as well,” Vickers says. “Been fabulous… we’re really thrilled.”

For Cleary, who instigated the display, living and working as a fulltime artist has been a childhood dream come true.

“I vividly recall the day I decided to be an artist when, at ten years old, my father took me to a small art exhibition in Te Kuiti and a painting of autumn trees caught my eye… so began my life-long passion for art,” she says. “At 16 I sold my first painting.”

Growing up in a remote area of the King Country, Cleary says she was surrounded by beautiful landscapes and sea scenes which inspired her artwork and now she has an affinity for New Zealand’s northern coastline.

“I have a strong passion for the beauty of Aotearoa,” she says. “I endeavour to capture this consistently in my artwork, capturing the powerful force of the waves, the stillness and tranquillity of the harbour and the emblazoned twilight sky.”

Bagley’s art illustrates a diverse talent and ability, from her detailed realism in portraits, to semi-abstract landscapes and more recent works of smaller abstract paintings, exaggerated to show the colour and character of the subject.

Working mainly in acrylics and pastels, Bagley honed her skills over the years through a variety of workshops, tutors and art groups, including her early training in architectural draughting, which helped to develop a focus for detail and penmanship. She has been commissioned for portraits and some of her work is now held in private collections in both New Zealand and Thailand.

“Painting portraits requires me to engage with empathy to my subject,” she says. “This allows the inner qualities [of the person] to be expressed and shared with the viewer.”

Well-known for her experimentation with photography, Vickers says she tries ‘to find niches that have not been explored before’, her inquisitive nature leading her to take five months to perfect – ‘as perfect as running water can ever be’ – her in-camera process.

“It was an exhausting and circuitous route I followed,” she says. “Despair was not far away at times when I couldn’t get the photos I thought were possible using this new method.”

Vickers’ specialised water photography is now exhibited widely in the North Island as well as internationally with many of her prints finding their way to private collections in NZ, Canada, England, Australia and the USA.

The artist’s determination and skill are showcased in her new series and portray even more luminous colours than her former works.

“As always weather paid a big part in the process,” she says. “But out of mistakes came some beautiful photographs that made it all worthwhile.”

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Jeanette Vickers with ‘Nesting Birds’. “One visitor actually joked you need to wear sunglasses as the colours are so bright,” she says.


Leslie Cleary’s ‘Ever-changing walkway’ encapsulates the ambience of a Mangawhai summer.


Vistas and hues of summer are captured in Marina Bagley’s set of abstracts.

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