Rotorua artists respond vibrantly to the Báb’s Writings
The arts community in Rotorua has rallied round an exhibition celebrating the bicentenary of the Birth of the Báb at the Rotorua Arts Village. The Arts Village opened up gallery spaces for the exhibition, local artists contributed numerous artworks, and the Rotorua Arts Trust contributed funding.
The “Unity in Diversity” exhibition was launched on 4 October and runs until 5 November. Opening night was a joyous event with 60 people attending, including many of the artists. Exhibition organiser Trish de Muth, a Rotorua Bahá’í, gave a short speech about the inspiration of the event.
The village receives between 350-500 visitors a week passing through the hallway and gallery where the exhibition hangs, which means that many souls will come across the Word of God and see its artistic expression during this month.
Trish had the idea for the exhibition back in May 2018, but when she enquired about booking the Arts Village galleries, she found they had already been booked for October 2019. Then out of the blue in early April 2019, almost a year later, the Arts Village contacted her saying a slot had now opened up for the exact time she wanted. “I saw that as a Divine intervention and a sign to go ahead”, says Trish.
Her idea from the start had been to make it a community initiative so she started reaching out to her artist networks and friends to ask for contributions. All of them were sent a description of the significance of this bicentenary celebration and a wide selection of short quotations from the Báb from which they could pick one or two to create an art piece in their preferred medium.
In the end 24 artists, three of whom are Bahá’ís, submitted their work with a total of 35 art pieces. Most of the artists are from Rotorua, with some from other parts of New Zealand and one as far away as Germany. The last couple of contributions were made in watercolour just the day before the opening by Trish’s five-year old step-grandson Teddy who, inspired by the other art pieces he had seen while helping hang the exhibition, also wanted to offer something. Therefore the age range of the artists spans from 5-80 years.
The exhibition contains a variety of media, including small and large paintings, pastels, photos, fibre, textile and traditional Maori weaving. The small to medium artworks fill the 20 metre long hallway gallery with about eight large works hanging in a studio gallery. The Arts Village is an ideal location as an art-based community centre with studio spaces, galleries and a cafe vibrant with activity.
Booklets about the Báb and Bahá’ulláh and a calendar of bicentenary events in Rotorua are on display for the public. An exhibition book, available for purchase, displays most of the art pieces, each next to the quotation of the Báb that inspired its creation. “I printed many copies as I thought this is a beautiful thing to have on display in multiple homes that can inspire devotional gatherings and firesides, not just here in Rotorua, but in the whole country,” says Trish.