Four art exhibitions offer eclectic mix

Jeff Armstrong stands in front of his self portrait in his exhibition ‘‘Imago Dei’’. PHOTO: ARROW...
Jeff Armstrong stands in front of his self portrait in his exhibition ‘‘Imago Dei’’. PHOTO: ARROW KOEHLER
Exhibitions about being a party animal, Oamaru’s crazy architecture, the image of God and the seasons are open at the art gallery.

The Forrester Gallery has opened the four exhibitions over the past two weeks.

Ewan McDougall’s "Too Much Monkey Business" was installed in the main and side gallery, alongside John Baster’s "Miniatures of the Grand Tour" in the vault gallery.

Upstairs, Jeff Armstrong’s "Imago Dei" and curated collection exhibition "Hour after Hour"were installed.

McDougall said his exhibition was inspired by his "wild old days at uni, leading a party animal lifestyle".

"I think they’re sort of like celebratory figures jumping about the place."

He attended high school in Oamaru and has maintained a strong connection with the Forrester Gallery since his first exhibition in the 1990s.

He lives in Broad Bay, Dunedin, and has been painting for the past 35 years.

"I just consider myself so lucky to have found this path."

"I think I’ll keep going until I drop. And I’ll drop with a paintbrush in my hand."

Baster said "The Miniatures of the Grand Tour" aimed to show the "crazy" architecture in Oamaru.

"This is frivolous architecture of the highest and best standard."

As the Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust restoration officer, Baster maintains the Venetian and Italianate style buildings, which helped him get to know them "intimately".

Making art was an "absolute compulsion" for him and he loved the creative flow.

"Well, I can’t help it; I always have to be making things."

The exhibition took six months to prepare and was his first solo show in the Forrester Gallery.

Armstrong said "Imago Dei" aimed to show how people were made in God’s image, while capturing their personality and essence.

"Who are the people — underneath?"

Standing in front of the exhibition ‘‘Too Much Monkey Business’’ in the Forrester Gallery are...
Standing in front of the exhibition ‘‘Too Much Monkey Business’’ in the Forrester Gallery are artist Ewan McDougall (left) and Forrester Gallery curator Rosalie Elliffe. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
The exhibition features images of local people and his grand-daughters with the common concept of imago dei, the image of God.

All but one of the portraits was looking out of the painting.

"The idea is the viewer is forced to engage.

"I think we’re made in the image of God and that’s the source of creativity."

After the exhibition, he planned to give the subjects of his paintings the image of them.

Armstrong worked as an architect for 45 years but found joy in painting during his retirement.

Curated by Forrester gallery curator Rosalie Elliffe, "Hour after Hour" exhibits pieces from the gallery’s permanent collection.

She wanted it to feel like "walking through the seasons".

The exhibition was of South Island landscapes, with a heavy focus on Waitaki.

The chosen artworks were by several local and national artists including Dick Frizzell, Colin McCahon, Eion Shanks and Colin Wheeler.

"It’s such a special treat to explore and research the artists in the collection," Ms Elliffe said.

There was an optional activity with the exhibition — people could write a poem inspired by an artwork or the collection.

"I want people to just sit and enjoy it," she said.

"Too Much Monkey Business", "Imago Dei" and "Hour after Hour" will be on display until April 7. "The Miniatures of the Grand Tour" will be displayed until March 10.