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Diaries on Show

This exhibition has been extended until October 11th 2021.

The act of creating diaries is well known to many of us. They are a chronological record of events and or thoughts that are part of our lives. We often create them to record work or travel or emotional passages. The usual format in the past was handwritten in books set up for the purpose. Now days we can perform this on digital platforms with interactive calendaring software and blogs etc.

For the purposes of this exhibition works have been curated from five artists artists who created diaries in differing formats. Three of the artists have performed a daily art practice over a course of an entire 365 day year, two of the artists have created specific diaries for 100 days.

Overview of ‘Diaries’

Jenny Bielawski, a well known Taranaki artist, has performed year long art works on more than one cycle.

Her earliest work ‘365 Days’ was created from June 2011 to June 2012.

This work started near the middle of 2011 and was worked on every day for a year, each day I did a small embroidered symbol type image, different every day, with a small piece of thread, the same measurement each day, the thread was left hanging, not cut. All the little squares were sewn together at the end of the month, each month hanging vertical to form the year. I travelled a bit that year and took the squares everywhere I went, included Nelson, England, Spain, Canada and continued to sew the little symbols every day until the year was finished .

Jenny’s description of ‘365 Days’

‘365 Days’ is an ethereal record of time’s passage. Now, as it hangs in the gallery, it is interactive to the air movements around it and it has taken on another life, re-animating in a gentle, embracing and captivating manner. The depth of shadows created within and around the work adds to the feeling of the passage of time. The exquisitely executed stitch motifs on each ‘entry’ call the viewer to engage closely, to imagine the events of the day being recorded, to feel the personal emotions held within them.

Title ‘Page’

For 2020 Jenny embarked on a diary practice based in her own at home surroundings – this of course being facilitated, as the year passed with the arrival of Covid-19. Informing Jenny’s art practice for many years has been her passion for plants and her own garden. This diary ‘Ex Horto Meo. MMXX’ ( From My Garden 2020) records this part of Jenny’s world.

Each day a plant has been placed on a small metal plate covered in ink, a small torn piece of printing paper covers the inked plate and put through the press, the botanical and common names are written on the paper, a month of little prints are sewn onto a torn piece of Linen table cloth, this once belonged to the RSA club in Hawera, my Dad was one of the members and I have many happy memories of special times with other families at the club, especially Christmas when Dad was always Father Christmas, though we didn’t know that for many years. Nothing to do with this art work, but the story comes along anyway. 

There are, of course twelve months starting 1st Jan finishing 31st Dec 2020, each Month presented as a wall hanging. 

The translation from Latin “Taken from my Garden 2020” 

Jenny Bielawski

Each month’s fabric ‘page’ of ‘Ex Horto Meo MMXX’ holds the paper prints of the plants that were selected and recorded across that month. This records not only the diversity of the garden abut also the seasonal evidences of the plants – the flowerings, the seeding times, the new growths. Along with the image of the plant Jenny has handwritten the botanical name of the plant and the date. The calligraphic record dances ethereally alongside the evidence of the print making.

Jenny has created a register book with the names of the plants recorded against the dates they were captured on print. This book sits beside the hanging panels as an installation guide.

Building on from the work done that has created ‘Ex Horto Meo MMXX’ Jenny work a further stage with her plant prints to develop the work ‘Toto Planta MMXX’

Jenny describes her process:

Small squares have been torn from an old white hospital bed sheet, the squares have been coloured with water colour wash, different colour each day of the week, a different plant each day has been placed and pressed into ink then printed onto the fabric with the Botanical and common names written on the square, all the squares are sewn together to form a “calendar”.

 “A Plant Daily 2020”, all plants are from my garden.

Jenny’s artist page at

gives more details about her practice and other works she has exhibited in the gallery. These current diaries are listed on the website shop page.

The second artist exhibiting in ‘Diaries’ is Christine Keller from Dunedin. More details about Christine and her lifetime practice are on her artist page:

For ‘Diaries’ we are exhibiting ‘Film Weaves’. This is a 3D work created while Christine was a weaving student in Montreal back in 1996. Here is her write up from earlier installations of the work.

There is a plan explaining all the daily elements of the work

The third artist in the exhibition is Wendy Johnstone. We are enjoying Wendy’s delightful stitch piece that is created to reflect the four seasons.

Having a pile of threads to sort and put away I decided to give myself a challenge, found some fabric, put on a hoop and took a length of thread. I just started stitching randomly to make a ground . Starting on Xmas day I then took one length of thread per day and just stitched, the piece just grew and after 3 months I decided it reminded me of summer. I decided to move my hoop and collect threads that represented autumn and the one thread a day still continued. Winter and spring then followed the last thread went in in Xmas eve. Not one day was missed.

Wendy Johnstone describing her process of creating ‘365 Days – Seasons’

Dale Copeland has created a 100 day book. This is a testament to her long practice of creative diversity and eclectic engagement with her making practice.

The fifth artist in this exhibition is Viv Davy. ‘The Codex Series’ was created every day over 2014-15 as a reflection of Viv’s daily domestic life. There are twelve monthly books in the series. Using The Taranaki Daily News front page as the foundation sheet, coded collages have been built. Each page has the morning activities on the front and the afternoon ones on the back. There are explanation banners for the code. The activities that are recorded are those of a ‘mundane’ life – everyday practical tasks and situations. The materials chosen to represent each activity had an emotional resonance with the activity and reflect a response by Viv to the act of the task. The size of the ‘material’ used depicts the amount of time spent on the activity. The code is material that was in the studio stash at the start of the project but they are all imbued with personal memories and values. The elements are bonded together using beeswax.