Visitors to The Incubator have been enjoying the first solo exhibition of a local artist this month.
Tauranga artist Michelle Estall has had several paintings on display at the Historic Village gallery, which represent myths and legends from the area's past.
“I've always loved art. I have a background in graphic design, but I've always wanted to do painting,” says Michelle. “It wasn't until my youngest child started going to kindy three years ago that I started doing art fulltime.”
She says the subject matter of the exhibition is something she's taken a strong interest in at this stage of her life.
“My son was attending Maungaarangi Kindergarten in Welcome Bay, and in their teaching they base a lot of their lessons around seven local legends. They approached me to illustrate some jigsaws for the kids, based on these stories.
“Then I thought the pictures would make great paintings. So they were essentially my working drawings for what became the exhibition.”
Some of the paintings depict well-known local legends, such as how Mauao came to sit at the entrance of Tauranga Harbour. Others portray lesser-known stories, such as that of Taurikura, a chief's daughter who turned herself into a lizard out of shame, and travelled to Karewa Island, where she is thought to be the ancestor of the tuatara living there.
Michelle has also painted about the three whales who came to Tauranga Moana and drank from a magic spring, which turned them into the hills of Kopukairoa, Mangatawa, and Hikurangi.
Her next project is working on illustrations for a book by Hinemarie Burton on the legend of Mauao. Hinemarie has also co-authored a bilingual picture book on the story of the whale mountains.
Michelle's exhibition is on at The Incubator in the Historic Village from October 6-30. It is free to view during The Incubator's opening hours, 10am-3pm weekdays.
The Incubator's first solo exhibition programme is funded in part by the Tauranga City Council Community Development Match Fund, in which the council contributes 50 per cent of the costs of a project up to $10,000.
Michelle's painting of Taurikura.