Art exhibition – The Nun and the Poet : Jerusalem


The Space Gallery’s exhibition in Whanganui, The Nun & The Poet: Jerusalem, includes etchings, woodcuts and photographs created by Michaela Stoneman during and after her times spent at Hiruharama (Jerusalem) on the Whanganui river.

There is a companion booklet with writings from Baxter, Aubert, Mere Hohepa, Jessie Munro and others as well as Stoneman’s own writing.

Stoneman, who is based in Patea, has visited Hiruharama a number of times and her most recent visits have been as an informal artist in residence.

“It is a unique and special place,” she says. “I feel different when I am there – my thoughts are clearer, not so restless. Perceptions around space and time change. The air is different.”

Stoneman says she relished the stillness and calm of Jerusalem and it was not an easy place to leave.

Stoneman is not Catholic but has a “thing about Mary” which she says was likely inspired by time spent with her Catholic grandparents.

She said they took her to church a  few times when she was a child. She remembers her fascination with the ritual and ceremony, the scale and beauty of the church, the symbols, incense, intense light and … “Mary everywhere.

“One Christmas I had to walk the aisle between pews to kneel beside the manger and I was uncomfortable with the overdressed church children. The songs all seemed to have the same tune. I just zoned out; staring at Mary.”

Stoneman recently inherited her grandmother’s rosary beads. They are cut glass, a dusty wine colour.

She used them to create the cyantype series Luminous Mysteries which she features in her exhibition… “exposed by the milky winter light at noon, cast through the convent sash windows.

“I got carried away with the repetition and timing the light, an art of meditation, gently calming while allowing the mind to wander, or be still.”

View some of the works in the exhibition


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