Art tutors walking the talk

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It’s common for our kaiako (tutors) to be actively involved with local industry and in the case of our Arts and Design kaimahi (staff) it’s also common for them to be exhibiting artists.  

“Like any other programme at WITT, ākonga should expect that their tutors to have ongoing experience in their field and be actively engaged and working with their community - we like to show the in-theory and the in-practice of how being an artist works,” says Arts and Design Kaiako Mark Alister Raymer. 

WITT Te Pukenga kaiako Mark and Dr Elliot Collins both have work exhibited currently. You can check out Elliot’s work at the Percy Thomson Gallery in Stratford (Don't Judge a Book by its Cover; it may take you on another journey on).  Mark also has numerous works on display to see. He has a series of etchings in the traveling exhibition put on by the Printmaking Council of Aotearoa New Zealand called Small Print 2023. As well as work in Celebration, on now at the Aratoi Museum in Masterton. And a future exhibition in Whanganui called In Series at SPACE Gallery. Both kaiako are exhibiting in the Lysaght Watt Gallery in Hāwera for the Lysaght Art Trust Awards as well.

“It’s important to be an exhibiting artist cause you gotta walk the talk. Being an artist is not easy, especially in the regions which are at least four hours away from contemporary art hubs of larger cities, Wellington, Auckland, and Christchurch, which can feel like a different planet when trying to enter the art world,” says Elliot.

Elliot is born and raised in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) and say he is first and foremost an artist, husband, researcher, photographer, poet, writer, plant grower and beach wanderer among many other things that artists have to be. He obtained a PhD from AUT in 2018 for a practice-led research project called Memory Markers in the Landscape of Aotearoa New Zealand.

“I have always had an interest in stories. This means making and memory that is held in the landscape.”

Elliot joined WITT in 2021 and teaches across levels 4, 5, and 6 in the Creative Industries team.

He says he has been a practicing artist for over 15 years now, showing at dealer galleries in Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown as well as national public galleries.

“I also like to keep showing and exhibiting in contemporary art galleries to show my ākonga that there is more to life than painting a mountain with cows in the foreground. Hopefully the longer I’m here the more café art I can discourage,” says Elliot.

He’s also been lucky enough to take up artist residency opportunities in France, The Netherlands and India. All were life changing opportunities he said.

Mark has also taught at WITT since 2021 and teaches Level 3 Trades Academy Digital Media, Level 4 Art and Design, Level 5 and 6 Printmaking, and Level 6 Creative Technologies.

He was born in Christchurch Ōtautahi and raised in Texas. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of North Texas and Master of Fine Arts at Kansas University. He says his current body of work is informed by the confusion of navigating one’s sense of place. 

“Depending on where you are in the world, obtaining and holding onto a home can be difficult for many reasons, and if lost or never gained, it can invoke a sense of displacement, a loss of sure footing. I relate to the desire for home in the literal sense and also the figurative sense. I struggle with a sense of self and country being a New Zealander raised abroad in Texas, there is a disconnect I didn't fully recognise until I moved back here. There is a constant pull to mend the disconnect between a sense of self and place while also considering Aotearoa’s history. Until then the house floats, unfilled, waiting for a solid foundation."


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