Australian Birgitt Shannon and her Irish partner became residents of Katikati by chance. But, Birgitt’s participation in and contribution to the Katikati art scene is planned and determined and with the support of her partner, Birgitt is now a full-time creative.
Birgitt tells me that after arriving in Auckland, from another totally chance conversation her partner found work in Katikati. Coming to visit Birgitt loved the place and now they’re here to stay.
Birgitt was born to art – she has drawn since childhood. After leaving school Birgitt became a long-term student of a local, privately run art school. Eleven years of night classes, learning techniques, visits to out-of-town galleries and exhibitions and participation in regular school shows of work. Birgitt says the two local artists who ran the art school were both multi-talented and dedicated to their students.
As a Senior Student of the art school Birgitt was a member of smaller selected group exhibitions. She has shown her work in both group and solo exhibitions of the Geelong Art Gallery and The Convent Gallery, Daylesford. The Convent Gallery says Birgitt “is a brilliant gallery converted from a former convent.”
Work and family intervened but now, Birgitt says painting is her whole life and she feels unsettled and irritable if she cannot paint.
I first met Birgitt hanging her art works for a 2015 exhibition in the Creative Tauranga Community Gallery. I was immediately struck by the large and colourful abstract works Birgitt was getting ready to show.
Birgitt tells me she paints exclusively in acrylics using a scumbling technique. This technique means Birgitt has to paint very quickly. Scumbling is one of the techniques Birgitt learned during her art school days; she says she immediately loved it and has continued to use it in her work. Birgitt explains the layering of the paint to create different depths of light, colour and form in each painting. She also comments on her love of color and “would never use brown.”
Each painting is unique because of the technique Birgitt uses and she says even she could not reproduce an exact copy of one of her paintings. Each work develops organically simply because of the scumbling process. Over the past 18 months Birgitt has found that circles are a recurring theme/motif in her finished works with the overall design emerging from the effect of methodically putting down the painted layers.
Birgitt is a member of the Waikato Society of Artists. She entered the 2015 New Zealand print making competition. Locally Birigtt has held two exhibitions at Katikati’s Little Blue House Gallery and has a joint exhibition at Mikkelsen’s Gallery, Paeroa. Birgitt has exhibited two separate bodies of work.
Birgitt also believes it is important to promote her own work as an artist and for that reason created a range of affordable greeting cards featuring her current abstract artwork. She has plans for a variety of art related projects. There is a website and facebook page but mainly its down to constant effort “so many things to do”.
I’m particularly interested in the recent Little Blue House Exhibition – how did it go? “Lots of people, up to 50 a day”. Birgitt tells me the days just flew by as “lots of wonderful people came in” and would stay to talk and discuss the works. Not only locals but out of towners from Tauranga and Auckland.
The Little Blue House is exactly that, a traditional New Zealand “state house”. It’s set back off the main road in the centre of Katikati, down a small alley way (past an artcraft shop). Yes, it’s painted blue. It’s been a fabulous gallery for local artists at $10. a day with no commission on works sold. The local paper The Katikati Advertiser regularly advertises and writes up individual exhibitions. The artist curates their own exhibition in the open front room appropriately painted white. There are also “lots of easels” available. This gallery space exemplifies the way a community can support its local artists while creating both a vibrant community and tourist attraction.
This was an interesting and enjoyable conversation with another talented, articulate artist contributing her time and talent to the wider Bay of Plenty and Waikato art scene – thank you Birgitt.
Birgitt Shannon Artist can be found at www.artbybirgitt.com Her facebook page is Art by Birgitt
Birgitt can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rosemary Balu. Rosemary is the founding and current Editor of ARTbop.