Muka Youth Prints Exhibition returns

Alba (left, 7) and Florence Paterson (6) of Gore hold the two lithographic prints they bought at last year’s Muka Youth Print Exhibition at the East Gore Art Centre. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

What is perhaps New Zealands longest-running art event returns to Gore for its 35th year.

The annual Muka Youth Prints Exhibition, which is open to young people aged between 5 and 18, is being held at the East Gore Arts Centre today. Entry is free and the young people attending will have the opportunity to buy original stone lithographic prints in an environment where adults are not allowed.

The unframed prints all cost $80 and the artists’ names are covered during the show.

Muka director and co-founder Magda Van Gils said the exhibition encouraged children to choose based on their appreciation of the work, rather than the artist’s reputation or for financial gain.

“The method of exhibition allows young people to develop a unique awareness of art that cannot be taught. By entering the room without adults, and with an opportunity to choose, young people really engage with the works of art on their own terms.”

Eastern Southland Gallery programmes officer Marcella Geddes said the event spanned generations.

“Now in its 35th year, the exhibition leaves a lasting legacy of children and adults who have grown up with and experienced art through the Youth Prints.

“Many of the children that bought prints back in the early days of the exhibition are now bringing their own children along to experience art as a new and important part of their world.”

The Muka Youth Prints Exhibition has been touring the country every year since 1987. During that time, 88 New Zealand and 77 overseas artists have contributed to the project. Tens of thousands of young people have attended and built their own art collections.

Most of New Zealand’s major artists have produced lithographic prints for the exhibition, including Ralph Hotere, Pat Hanly, Nigel Brown, John Reynolds, Gretchen Albrecht and Dick Frizzell.