Topic: Angela McKenzie: New Community Gallery Curator

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Angela McKenzie was born in the Waikato town of Te Awamutu and spent her early years in the small rural community of Te Pahu, situated at the base of the Pirongia Mountains.

Looking wrong? Archived version here.

At the age of 10, her family moved to another rural community in the Bay of Plenty, Otamarakau, where she continues to live today with her three children and partner Clive.

Growing up, Angela enjoyed a close relationship with her Grandmother.

“She would fill our heads with the most magical stories,” says Angela.

“She was a true story teller, capturing my attention from the moment the tale began.

“I would be still and silent, intently listening as my mind began to wander, pictures forming in my mind with each description.

“I believe this was the beginnings of my ‘imaginative mind wanderings,’ a place I still go to today when fully absorbed in the art making process.”

Angela has been actively creating work for over 20 years, but in 1998 she began painting seriously.

The opportunity to study came up in 2007, the inaugural year of the ‘Akai Rakai Toi’ Diploma in visual art programme at Bay of Plenty Polytechnic.

Angela says that the two year programme offered a lot in terms of learning new techniques, arts marketing and the chance to dedicate valuable time to building an artists own particular style.

On graduation she went on to be awarded the ‘Harrisons Gallery Art Excellence Award’, achieving top student. 

After a year off she then went on to complete studies for Level 7 advanced Diploma in Art and Design at Waiariki Institute of Technology in Rotorua.

Critiques are standard practice for the students enabling them to receive valuable feedback from tutors and visiting artists.

This helps gain an understanding of the processes, both in practical and conceptual terms that is required to be a working professional artist.

At times the critiques can be difficult, but are vital to the students’ development.

Part of Waiariki’s programme was to do an internship and Angela chose to work with Creative Tauranga, working alongside John Beech in his role as gallery curator.

Angela McKenzie working in her Otamarakau studio.

Waiariki also offers the chance to continue studies with Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design.

The two tertiary providers have a pathway programme that provides the opportunity to finish a degree through the articulation agreement.

Waiariki provides the fourth year of Whitecliffe Bachelor of Fine Arts, which is taught on Waiariki’s Mokoia Campus.

Angela decided to take up this challenge and is on track to graduate with her Bachelor of Fine Arts on December 2.

For Angela, having the chance to dedicate four years to art studies has helped her develop a strong arts practice. One of her favourite quotes is: ‘The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without the work’ – Emile Zola (1840-1902).

“To be a dedicated artist takes an enormous amount of hard work,” says Angela.

“Not only to be painting or creating work on a daily basis, but also to actively build your artist profile.

“It’s a juggling act that requires good organisational skills. It’s a little like the ‘Hare and Tortoise’ story – slow and steady, persevere, and don’t give up.”

Angela’s work on show (centre) at the Waiariki Level.7. Exhibition – 2010.

As an artist who is driven by experimentation it is the ‘unknown’ element that drives Angela to continue investigating and to push the boundaries of paint.

When asked about technique and other matters pertaining to her art she says, “Technique goes beyond the mechanical and manual processes.

“This is not because the materials chosen or the surface they are applied to illustrate attitudes or intentions; it has more to do with the way in which they react when combined that redefines meaning and reveals to the viewer a private interaction between the conscious and unconscious. 

“To take a risk is to step outside the known, into the unknown, the original, the surprising, the fascinating and all those things that can happen in the unknown – and those are often uncomfortable places to be in, but liberation comes through the achievement of risk taking.

“A successful painting opens an invitation for the viewer to look elsewhere.

“Art can tell us about the world we live in. It can make us feel more profoundly, think more intelligently and stimulate the senses.

“Abstract can be seductive and irresistible, a place where colours merge, forms appear and a kind of imagery is suggested.

“It is more an exploration into the discovery of images rather than a deliberate making of a drawing.” 

Angela’s ability in art, her long years of study and internship have led to her recent position as Creative Tauranga Community Gallery Curator and Arts Adviser.

Her sunny personality, artistic imagination and organisational skills make her ideally suited to foster the growth of art in Tauranga.

The upcoming exhibition of Bachelor of Fine Arts students celebrating the achievement of four years hard work will be one worth making the trip for.

The exhibition will run from November 24 – December 14 and can be viewed each week day from 8.30am to 4.30pm at the Waiariki Institute of Technology Mokoia Campus, I block Atrium and the J Block Gallery on Mokoia Drive, Rotorua.

For more information about her art, the Rotorua exhibition and our Community Gallery here in Tauranga please contact Angela at

by Pete Morris (21 November 2011).

Pete Morris is an occasional painter and art lover who has a particular interest in promoting the visual arts in Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty. 


This page archived at Perma CC in November of 2016:

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Angela McKenzie: New Community Gallery Curator

First Names:Angela
Last Name:McKenzie
Place of Birth:Te Awamutu