'Life's Little Dramas' - Dr David Guerin

106 Russell St South, Hastings

[HB Today Article - by Mitchell Hageman]

David Guerin’s new art exhibition wasn’t intended to be about the floods, but Life’s Little Dramas ended up being a pretty real reflection.

The Havelock North artist opened the exhibit at Arts Inc. Heretaunga on Monday night, with some works barely escaping from his flooded Joll Rd studio.

“My studio got a metre of water through it, and the whole property was inundated. It barely missed my house,” he said.

He said he had “dodged a bullet”, as many of his neighbours were dealing with significant damage to their houses after the Mangarau Stream dam in the Havelock hills filled up and spilled down into Joll Rd properties for the first time since it was built in the late 1970s.

While Guerin’s house was safe, 50 years of drawings and eight tonnes of books in the studio were damaged. “My brother-in-law kindly helped me weigh them out before we got rid of them. We figured about 5000 books were lost.”

Pointing to a historical drawing of Anzac Cove, he described how the piece was seconds away from not making it through. “You can see the water stain; that’s how close that one was to being destroyed.”

The exhibit features drawings, carvings and sculptures that Guerin had been making right up until the flood. A eucalyptus carving titled Taniwha had to be re-shaved to get rid of the watermark, which indicated the height of the water. “He was about 80 per cent carved and [I had his] head down beside my bench.”

Another work, Mudface, eerily reflects the dark and muddy floodwaters many have seen over the past few weeks, and The Division Line #2 is overtly reminiscent of the many communities trapped during the floods.

The exhibit also acts as a symbol of hope and resilience for the Hawke’s Bay arts community, as it is the first exhibit to show at Arts Inc. Heretaunga since the floods.

“This exhibition is a resilient and resolute response to the recent events that devastated our region,” said exhibition co-ordinator Mark Anderson.

Guerin said his art reflected things happening in his life and what he was thinking, and now it seems the work reflects the reality for many of those in Hawke’s Bay.

“It allows me to have my personal and private space,” he said. He hopes those who come to the show will be able to feel some connection or think about a message they deem important.

“Art is supposed to affect us in some way. Or else, what’s the point?”

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Hastings Community Arts Centre, Hastings, Hawke's Bay / Gisborne

106 Russell St South, Hastings