Inspired by colours

Katherine Reade at her Art gallery in Navua. Picture: MATILDA SIMMONS

NAVUA is a town of mixed intricacies.

Nestled on the banks of the Navua River, the rural town is marked by its thriving produce market. Villagers from upriver and outer islands such as Beqa travel down to the town to sell their produce.

It’s the starting point of a lot of inland river tours as well.

As the town expands, so do the various business activities that have flourished along the seams of the river.

From supermarkets, bread shops to various accessory shops, the town earns its tag as one of the busiest rural towns between Suva and Pacific Harbour.

It’s also the place, where Fijian Australian artist Katherine Reade decided to open her art gallery — MNG (Mather Nichols Gallery) — a first perhaps for the town.

Located upstairs of the B. Prasad & Son’s Complex, opposite the Navua River and marketplace, the gallery shop boasts a great view over the Navua River.

Reade said she was inspired by the laid-back town scene.

“I’ve always had a dream to start up my own gallery. I came to Navua and noticed this space up here and I thought, oh wow, that’s inspirational, the market is right up here, you’ve got fresh produce, the striking colours of the tomatoes and the various vegetables, there’s so much content that you can work with here. Plus for me it’s about community,” she said.

Reade has exhibited some of her works at Connections Art Space, Dandenong, Australia with New Wayfinder’s debut exhibition ‘Ocean Stories from Home’.

She works predominantly with oil pastels on paper and is inspired and influenced by artists such as Georgia Totto O’Keefe (USA), Christine Hiller (Aus) and Shay Docking (Aus).

Her love for bright, bold colours captures the intricate details of Pacific-native flowers, intimately.

“For me it’s about community. What I really want is to open this up to everyone,” she said.

“Arts are such a broad spectrum – you have fashion, crafts, traditional music, and so on. But I wanted to open it up to everyone.

“The next step for MNG is art classes, so there’s some spaces at the back which is already set up and got tables. I want to open it up and teach people the basics of art.

“This for me is not fine arts, it’s literary, and it’s music. So what we are envisioning is that community groups, cultural groups come and use this space to show their form of art, whether its arts, music, poetry etc.

“So that really is the main purpose. “Our core values are respect and vision. So respect regardless of gender, social class or income — the vision is that it’s not about us, it’s about everyone.”

As an art gallery, MNG is an artist-run initiative (ARI) for local emerging and established artists, with a focus on self-representation and upskilling.

Reade adds it will be a place for artists to exhibit, share and learn the basics of art.

“We want to create an opportunity for others as there just aren’t many commercial galleries or contemporary art spaces to accommodate everyone.

“We’re a creative art space where people from all walks of life are encouraged to enjoy the beauty of art. So I urge people out there to stop by and check us out,” she smiled.

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