The Lockdown Drawings

by Mam Aotearoa

Date: Sep 18 – Oct 1Space: Small Gallery

These series of drawings by Mam Aotearoa emerged from curtailed travel plans, hence no immediate drawing ideas, and a sense of frustration brought on by the sudden lockdown. She had to face up to the page with nothing.

With a pencil in hand Mam scribbled, big loopy scribbles. She looked at the page for 2 days, turning it around and over until eventually something emerged, a shape that had some meaning for her. Ahe drew it on, eliminating a few lines, tweaking others, sometimes adding a predefined subject as in “Malevich in Africa”. One page held 3 possible drawings, one of which is “A Gun and Tear”. At first she had resistance to running with that one, the subject matter of domestic violence was uncomfortable but she eventually felt compelled to do so. Within this experimental technique Mam discovered  a lot of fun, satisfaction and surprise. She likens it to an archaeological dig as she never knew what was going to emerge, it came out of the ether and as the artist she simply gave it form.

Mam uses coloured pens and pencils, sometimes ink, and many layers to give texture, intensity of colour and a greasy unctuousness. She enjoys quirkiness, semi abstraction, suggestiveness, concept and, at present, the poster aesthetic but within it all each drawing has to have some meaning. Pure abstraction is something yet to be discovered, maybe.

Mam began to draw in her fifties, a combination of circumstances and a book. She was spending time with a friend living in a coastal village in Kenya. He was busy building up his “Shamba” (smallholding) during the day so she had a few hours to delve into the only book she had brought with her, which was Julia Cameron’s “The Artists Way”. It changed her life, she began to draw and has not stopped since. Many of her drawings have an African influence and now she has her own studio/house on the Shamba and travel there every year for several months. Otherwise Mam lives in a pretty cottage in the Maraetotara Valley.

Mam’s drawings have been exhibited in the Hawke’s Bay Review and East exhibitions and she was a member of the artists collective Viva Gallery in Napier. Her work has been sold to Australia, USA, Germany, Britain, Singapore and New Zealand.

Join Mam Aotearoa to celebrate the opening of her exhibition in the CAN Small Gallery on Friday 18 September, 5-7pm. All welcome! Light refreshments will be served.

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