13 Jun 2020

Exhibition opening in Hastings a sign of 'life returning to normal'

11:00 am on 13 June 2020

For Hawke's Bay artist Mauricio Benega, the Covid-19 lockdown made his art change tack.

Te Awanga artist Mauricio Benega’s art replicating New Zealand’s $20 note will feature in Hastings Art Gallery Local Lockdown exhibition.

Te Awanga artist Mauricio Benega’s art replicating New Zealand’s $20 note will feature in Hastings Art Gallery Local Lockdown exhibition. Photo: Mauricio Benega

In one of the paintings Benega submitted for Hastings City Art Gallery's new Local Lockdown exhibition, the Queen's eyes are covered in a recreation of New Zealand's $20 note.

"The Queen is in there - I was doing this painting before Covid-19 came up... I finished in a different way that wouldn't have happened if life was just normal," Benega said.

"Queen Elizabeth's got this stripe in her eyes and that's pretty much just talking about where all these things where the economy's going to go, nobody really knows, it's just a guessing game from now on. If this thing didn't happen, I'd probably just be painting the $20 note."

Te Awanga artist Mauricio Benega.

Photo: Supplied

Benega, who was from Brazil but now lives in Te Awanga in the Hastings district, is one of sixteen local artists participating in the new exhibition that opened on Friday night.

Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said it was another stop towards "life returning to normal".

"This is one of the first events to be held in our community facilities since going to level 1 and it's great we can hold it without any Covid-19 restrictions.

Te Whare toi o Heretaunga Hastings City Art Gallery had scheduled exhibitions postponed or cancelled.

Two of Benega's pieces were selected for the exhibition - the other piece was a collaboration with another artist - painting a woman on a sofa.

"It was appropriate for this exhibition as well - she's laying down on the sofa herself, contemplating life, there's a lot of people that got stuck in the world by themselves," he said.

For new gallery curator Clayton Gibson and his team, one of their first jobs was to quickly create a new exhibition to replace Connect the Dots, which had to be postponed until next year.

The artists were using their practice as a means of exploring their lockdown experience, and its effects on society as a whole.

They worked with either stockpiled supplies, or adapted their practice to make the most of the materials they had at hand as they were unable to buy more art supplies.

Local Lockdown runs through to 19 July and entry is free.

The artists are Gillian Appleby, Mauricio Benega, Wellesley Binding, Jennifer Dickerson, Jo Fisher, Sharleen Gamble, Troy Gardiner, Jane Gray, Michael Hawksworth, Andy Heyward, Jean McGavock, Ross McKay, Cinzah Merkens, John Staniford, Ricks Terstappen and Bernie Winkels.

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