Rural Recollections

Community Gallery May 12th - 25th 2011

A warm, often humourous look at rural life in the Waikato, by established local artists Sue Edmonds and Ruth Manning.

Ruth Manning's artist statement:
These paintings have a dream-like quality because they are all from memories of past events in my life. Although I have used sketches from my sketch book, a lot of the painting just happens. I am using acrylic at the moment, and I like to use a big brush.
I was young in the early 1940s when we lived in Northland just outside Whangarei. My father fitted and serviced milking machines in his “patch” from Maungatoroto and surrounding areas to Kaikohe in the north. There were a lot of farms using the older methods of powering machinery and when the electricity did reach the North, and the farms changed to electricity he saved some of the interesting engines which he used for years, and some of which we now have .
These were the days when nobody we knew had much money and all clothing was “passed on” or made out of Auntie Millie's old dress. Everyone grew vegetables and kept chickens and all food scraps were fed to them. The fire-wood chore was made lighter by everyone pitching in to help. We all enjoyed,it and it used up all that excess energy kids seem to have in the evenings, there was never any difficulty in getting to sleep.
Some years ago we took part in a Tractor Trek with a group we are part of. The first one was through lush farmlands, and there are two paintings relating to this event in this exhibition. Lovingly restored and proudly driven, these old tractors went on a further Trek to Taranaki a year or two later. Leaving Hamilton Whatawhata, to drive at about 30 miles {50 Km} per hour in stages via Kawhia, Marakopa, Awakino, to Bell Block. Taranaki. There are two paintings from this trip in this exhibition.
Because the truck I was travelling in was very high off the ground, my husband made a ladder to get me in and out. Therefore I remained in the cab if I did not have to get out, and with my sketch book “got” most of these sketches for paintings.

Sue Edmond's artist statement:
A ‘later in life’ career change has somehow turned me into a farming writer, which often involves attending field days on farms.

As an inveterate people watcher, the photos I take at these events frequently seemed to include individuals and groups standing or working in interesting ‘poses’, while being unaware of being watched.

I began to experiment with another new-found skill, painting the quirky bits, and found I could express what was going on quite well. Thinking up suitable titles came naturally to a wordsmith, adding an element of humour to each individual work.

Painting people, who were unaware of the visual effect of what they were doing, also led to some works arising from takeaway bars, lunchbars and cafes.

My tribe of animals (2 cows, 2 donkeys and 2 goats) on my Eureka block can be the source of inspiration and amusement too.

And my friends insisted there had to be a cowshed in there somewhere, given how much I write about what’s going on in new ones each year.

As a first major exhibition of my paintings, I’ve learned a lot from producing a ‘series’ in a relatively short period of time.

I hope that those who view them during this exhibition find themselves smiling, while recognising the foibles of humanity, and the visual joys to be seen when one really looks!

This Image Gallery shows a small selection of the work on display.