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Power Of Images Explored In New Exhibition

We may all walk around with a camera in our pockets these days, but a new exhibition opening at Te Whare Toi o Heretaunga – Hastings Art Gallery this weekend explores the power of the images we create, and the stories they tell about how we see both ourselves and others around us.

Through the work of five Aotearoa artists, the exhibition, called Vital Machinery, explores women’s experiences of the lens, how lived experience and creative practice intersect, and the implications of image capture within colonial histories and today’s hyper-networked world.

While Conor Clarke, Selina Ershadi, Janet Lilo, Louise Menzies, and Meg Porteous each have a lens-based approach, their output mediums vary - from photographs, moving image, and murals to textile.

Locals can tour Vital Machinery with the five women artists, and the exhibition’s curators, on Saturday morning, at 11am.

Hastings Art Gallery Curator and Manager Sophie Davis says Vital Machinery was first shown in Ōtepoti at Dunedin Public Art Gallery in late-2022, but it’s been revisited and extended for its Hastings iteration.

“It’s the same exhibition that began in Ōtepoti Dunedin, but since then each artist has added new artworks, or swapped things around after a further year of reflection and conversation,” Ms Davis says.

“Janet Lilo, for example, has created what she describes as a Hastings ‘remix’ of her large-scale photomural, developed specifically for Vital Machinery.”

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Each artist engages with the camera not only as a form of technology, but also as an extension of their bodies and thought processes.

“These are artworks which explore the power of images and the stories they create,” Ms Davis says.

Ms Davis co-curated Vital Machinery with Dunedin Public Art Gallery curator, Lucy Hammonds, who may be known to local audiences from her time as curator of art and design collections at Napier’s MTG from 2007 until 2015.

“It’s been a great opportunity to bring this exhibition to Heretaunga, where our audiences will be able to experience the work of these dynamic contemporary artists,” Ms Davis says.

  • To hear more about Vital Machinery, head along to Hastings Art Gallery, in Civic Square, at 11am on Saturday, November 25, for a tour with the five artists and the exhibition’s curators. For more information, please go to

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