William Hodges Fellowship Exhibition artists draw on Southland for inspiration ahead of show

This year’s William Hodges Fellows have drawn inspiration from Southland to create works of art for this year’s exhibition.

The Artist in Residence and Fellowship programme has been running for 29 years. This year will showcase the two Fellows – Daegan Wells with his show Finest Fuchsias and Kyla Cresswell’s Tracing the Land.

This year’s exhibition is a partnership between He Waka Tuia, Invercargill Central Ltd, Southland Museum and Art Gallery, and the Southland Art Foundation and will be held upstairs in a retail space at Invercargill Central, which has previously been closed off to the public while it was finished.

Southland Arts Foundation chair Lyndal Ludlow said she was pleased to see the William Hodges Fellowship up and running again after a three-year absence.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and endorse artists with a Southland connection to be inspired by their roots and produce fascinating works.”

The exhibition was based around the Invercargill city centre so it was only fitting to have it right in the middle of town, she said.

“The kaupapa is to have artists from outside the province. This will help bring people back to their whenua.

“I can’t wait to see how the CBD has inspired our fantastic artists.”

He Waka Tuia manager Sarah Brown said it was great to be partnering with the Southland Arts Foundation for this show.

“We aim to have a certain amount of shows in different places outside He Waka Tuia, so it’s awesome to be getting out and about in some different spaces in town.

“It’s also great to see these new spaces being activated.”

Hodges Fellow Daegan Wells said the work he was showing was video and installation artworks that respond to the Otepuni Gardens.

“This project was a way to get a sense of the place. It will explain the history of the gardens as well as the present day.”

Wells has been living in Colac Bay for about six years and before that, he studied in Christchurch. This will be the largest exhibition he has had in Southland.

“I’m really looking forward to presenting my work to the community that inspired me.”

Hodges Fellow Kyla Cresswell has been printmaking for about 30 years after getting started as a student in the art department at James Hargest High School.

“The body of work I have prepared is called Tracing the Land. It is in reference to the echoes of what has gone before us that we can find in the landscape.

“I’m interested in how the Waihōpai area is connected to at least five distinctive ecosystems – parts of the city are built on reclaimed wetland, the riparian river borders, bog, beautiful podocarp forest and the estuary. I have researched which plants would have stood in these places. I believe that our link to nature is really important. How can we remember, honour, protect and rebuild this connection?”

Cresswell grew up in Invercargill but has lived in several different places in New Zealand and abroad.

“It feels very grounding to be in the South again. I produced the works for this show in Athol.”

In 1999, the Southland Art Foundation Trustees, which included current Invercargill City Council Manager Museum and Heritage Services Wayne Marriott, renamed the Artist in Residence programme the William Hodges Fellowship in recognition of the acquisition of William Hodges’ Māori Before a Waterfall – the 1773 painting which shows the earliest known depiction of Māori in Southland. Hodges depicted the flora, fauna and people in the region during Captain James Cook’s second voyage to New Zealand.

The William Hodges Fellowship Exhibition will run from 27 May to 25 June on level one of Invercargill Central. Access to the exhibition space is via the ground floor elevator opposite Amazon or near the entrance to Farmers by the level one carpark area.