Two large wall panels capturing Canterbury’s dramatic mountain landscape from above dominate the tiny home studio of Whale Bay artist Miranda Caird, who hopes the work will win for her an award in this weekend’s NZ Art Show — a three-day “visual feast” of new, emerging and established artists.
Billed as the country’s biggest art exhibition showcasing thousands of works from hundreds of selected Kiwi artists, it’s given Miranda — for several years a general exhibitor — her first shot in the show’s solo panel category with the Canterbury diptych, entitled ‘Alps Down Under’, up for the $5000 Signature Piece Art Award.
Being a solo panel artist this time around gives Miranda a space where she can hang 15 artworks in all and she hopes to sell every piece. To date the annual exhibition, which is governed by NZ Affordable Art Trust and is now in its eighth year, has sold about $6 million worth of art and returned most of that to the artists.
To have so many paintings in an exhibition frequented by buyer collectors, as well as a sellout gala evening before the show opens, makes for good exposure, she says.
Miranda’s latest acrylics on canvas, which she’s been working on for a few months now, are all scenes of the South Island — many photographed while on an artist’s residency in Fairlie late last year, where she “immersed” herself in the southern lakes and mountains.
Most pieces are from Otago, including Wakatipu’s Pig and Pigeon Islands along with the magnificent Hawkdun and Dunstan Ranges.
Strong emotional connections to the alpine countryside inspire her absorption with “contours of the land”, she explains. The challenge is to portray the depth of that beauty in different weather conditions and light. Tussock country against dark sky is a favourite theme for her.
Miranda, 47, is set to exhibit at the NZ Art Show in Wellington more paintings than she’s had in one place since her exhibitions several years ago at Te Uku Gallery — now Te Uku Roast Office — at a time when local resident Vera van der Voorden provided exposure for emerging artists.
She is grateful for that early support in a painting career which spans almost a decade and has seen many portrayals too of Raglan and Mount Karioi in its different moods. She’s also appreciative of the investment of other locals like the Cravens and friend and neighbour Sandra Ellmers, who have bought much of her work.
Miranda — who sells her work worldwide through NZ galleries and online — recently had her first foray into exhibiting overseas, as a featured artist in two group exhibitions in Camden near Sydney, where she sold seven pieces of art.
Soon after the NZ Art Show, she will turn her endeavours closer to home with artworks for a Raglan exhibition at Matipihi Gallery to help raise money for the preservation of the endangered Maui’s dolphins.