Lockdown Initiatives in Te Tai Tokerau

Megan Dickinson (Owner of MD Gallery)

Megan Dickinson owner of MD Gallery, Whangarei had the very rare opportunity of having some time on her hands to think about ways she can help artists and emerging artists during the lockdown over the last 5-6 weeks.

We interviewed Megan about two separate initiatives she has implemented, Artists in Studios and Critiques for Artists, that kept Megan connected to the arts community and the community connected to the arts.

Tell us about the Artists in Studios videos:
I was Inspired by artist, John Lancashire (Insta) who uploaded a raw unedited video of a tour of his studio and home.

I felt that pre lockdown everything appeared perfect and it was criticized if it wasn’t. During this time (lockdown) the content and essence of the video could be shown from the artist’s studio as it was, no pressure for the artist to perform or not say um a thousand times or have their child following them around.

I am a big fan of John and to see him online relaxed and informal showing his art work was refreshing and the idea stemmed from there.
John is represented by Muse Gallery, they posted his video on Instagram and I ran with this idea for Northland.

Who is participating?
Three so far, Grant Beran, Photographer, Grant specializes in silver gelatin prints and will be showing in an exhibition later this year at MD Gallery. It was great to have his son film him as he showed us through his studio.

Janine Whale, Fibre Artist, has shown in MD’s gallery twice. Janine has an amazing practice, intricate and thorough. Incorporating her son through this exercise as well, involving whanau in the videos. Heartwarming experience.

Sally Spicer, Fine Arts Artist, Sally’s is the latest video in the series. What I love is that the people involved in recording the artists are the artists’ children and family. Connecting this was important too.

The reason these videos are online is because we are in lockdown, John’s video made me happy, watching real people doing what they love.

Where can people find these videos and upcoming videos?
All on Instagram and MD Gallery FB page

Critiques for artists:
Really missing the daily interaction of gallery life, Megan realized during this period of isolation that she needed to find a way to connect again, something she placed huge value on. She was missing collectors popping in to see what’s new and artists coming in for a chat and to discuss their work. So ‘Art before Breakfast’ was born.

This area is something Megan is incredibly passionate about. A core aspiration for Megan and one of the reasons she got into the arts is her passion for everyone creative to achieve their goals.

In Megan’s critique sessions ‘Art before Breakfast’ she meets face to face with emerging to mid career artists needing a bit of guidance about their work, body of work and what their aspirations are.

“To be able to offer a platform for these one on one artists critiques online from the comfort of home has been one of the gems that has come out of COVID-19 lockdown” says Megan.

The critiques were set up specifically for the lockdown period as an opportunity to empower artists to achieve their goals whatever they may be. ‘They also kept me motivated (during this time) too’. Megan was aware that many artists struggle getting professional critique for their work, this idea was born from Megan’s knowledge and experience in the sector.

Megan has a big picture goal for the arts sector. She wants to educate the community and public that art is a serious profession. This also involves the artists taking themselves seriously too.

The critique session were a more informal way of artists and emerging artists to connect with Megan.

She wants artists to fulfill their goals, assisting anyone along that path is ‘really rewarding’ Megan says.

What’s happening for you post lockdown?
“We hit the pause button at the beginning of lockdown and we will resume our exhibition calendar beginning of June opening with spatial drawing artist Anastasia Parmson

“I am looking forward to getting back into the gallery and reconnecting with my art community”

One of Megan’s goals is to raise the standard of art across Te Tai Tokerau and she is a huge advocate for the potential of artists and bringing art into the professional world as a recognised career.

“Advocating for art as a profession and bringing that awareness to the public is needed” Megan says “Not much will change until this has been established in the community. It is a worldwide issue. Artists need to be critiqued from someone they don’t know, a professional arts practitioner.’’
‘’This is as much the responsibility of the artist to treat this as such, it is your profession, let’s get organized’’

Feeling the passion, the energy and looking forward in a big picture way, it was so wonderful to connect with Megan about what the future will entail. We are so excited about what’s to come from MD Gallery over the next few months and their ongoing contribution to the creative sector.

Hear more from Megan in our next Creative Connection catch up, Rebooting Regional Arts Post COVID-19. We will be live streaming the event Thursday May 14th 2020 at 3pm on our Youtube channel.

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