“By now then, surely, we can do better than call McCahon a painter of landscapes. He is an artist of those edges of our world where the unknown feels proximate: a painter of leaps, falls, brinks, shores, cliffs, horizons. When McCahon paints Muriwai, he paints it as a leaping-off point and a launch pad – a metaphor that he never ceases to test, reload and repurpose.”
Justin Paton, McCahon Country, 2019, p. 174.
All-at-once-ness is an exhibition of paintings by Jana Wood (Ngati Raukawa ki te tonga/Ngati Pakeha) and is the result of an ongoing fascination with Colin McCahon’s 1971 Series of works on paper, produced from his studio at Muriwai.
For Wood, this project-turned-exhibition had its inception a few years back, prompted by an encounter with two of Colin McCahon's 1971 works on paper, “A poem of Kaipara Flat” and “Evening Muriwai” at Pah Homestead in Tāmaki Auckland. This encounter marked the genesis of Wood’s journey. As the pandemic took hold, she relocated to Port Waikato on the west coast, where the influence of McCahon's paintings continued to shape her creative research.
In the development of All-at-once-ness, Wood sustained her immersion and connection with place. Using light layers of oil paint on traditional rabbit-skin gesso, painted onto MDF or recycled timbers, Wood's focus shifts away from mere "views" to the intricate tapestry of daily phenomena that surrounds her. It's the perpetual cycle of accumulating and receding sands, the graceful dance of the sky's currents, the restless undulation of the sea, and the commanding presence of the Waikato Awa that take centre stage. And with that – a storm warning. The rising sea-levels and the constant, damaging erosion.
Even to this day, in the tranquil embrace of dusk, she partakes in a ritual, strolling to the brink of the sand dunes to witness the sun's descent. It's during these moments that she often envisions McCahon himself, positioned at the precipice, beholding the unfolding splendour by her side.
View exhibition booklet and artist bio here.
View exhibition catalogue here.
Read Nina Dyer’s essay on All-at-once-ness here.
Gallery Programmes accompanying this exhibition:
8 September - Opening Preview
16 September - September Saturday Gallery Club: Exploring Watercolour
14 October - Artist Kōrero: In Conversation with Jana Wood