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Taylor-Jensen Fine Arts takes pleasure in hosting Palmerston North artist Vivian McKenna’s second solo exhibition of unique pen and ink drawings.  Viv’s artwork has graced the walls and print bins of the gallery for several years and proven to be very collectable. The title of the exhibition is reference to the vast array of animal life that she has depicted in her drawings.  More than 30 framed works will be shown in the exhibition which will run from the 12th through to the 31st of January.  A public reception for the artist will be held on Friday 12th January from 5- 7PM at the gallery, 33 George Street, Palmerston North.  With the development and continued interest in ‘adult colouring books’, McKenna’s fine line drawings will strike a resonant chord with doodlers, graphic artists and animal lovers of all ages!  The artist’s striking imagery rooted perhaps in European folk-art painting contains a very strong Pacific and New Zealand flavour.  McKenna’s flair for repetitive design is only enhanced by its use to ‘colour in’ easily recognised flora and fauna forms as well as insects and fishes covering them in intricate patterns often associated with folk culture. Her ability may be called ‘advanced doodling’ by some but those in the know will easily recognise a distinctive art form mastered by very few.  The relationship of one pattern to another and the way that Ms McKenna fills the voids on a subject’s body will intrigue and fascinate gallery goers.  Her steady hand, clever use of curves and linear forms never cease to amaze and amuse the viewer.   Her handiwork has a distinctive resemblance to embroidery and fine needlework only instead of thread the artist uses coloured inks applied to paper with a deft hand.

Vivian McKenna likes to draw!  She was born into a creative family. Both her mother and grandmother belonged to the Wellington Art Club and exhibited in the NZ Academy of Fine Arts, Wellington. She says: “I have early childhood memories of sitting for the art club during school holidays.  I took art as a school certificate subject and had my first work exhibited in the Wellington Cultural Centre when I was in my teens.”   

After moving to Levin, McKenna attended night classes in perspective and colour.  She was invited to join the Alpha Group – working artists who painted or drew together to share the expense of a model hired for portrait practice.  Working in mostly pastel at this time, Viv often sold her paintings in local art shows.

In 1994 McKenna moved to Palmerston North.  Unable to find a similar art group in the city, she attended an evening life drawing group hosted by Taylor-Jensen Fine Arts.  When a day-time life drawing group was established in Palmerston North, Viv joined those artists as well.  “My interest though remained primarily in portraiture.”  In 2016 Vivian joined the Feilding and Districts Art Society (FADAS) and regularly attends their Tuesday morning sessions drawn as much by fellowship as by what she learns and shares with her fellow members.

“I have always drawn elaborate doodles on any piece of paper that came my way,” writes Viv, “and in this series of works I have endeavoured to harness that inclination in a more contained form.  I hope that these works invite people to think about being part of the land we live on.  To not just accept things at face value but to take a closer look!  Enjoy.”  

Stuart Schwartz can be reached at 06 355 4278 or via email at

The public is always invited to view special exhibitions and other artworks held at Taylor-Jensen Fine Arts, 33 George Street, Palmerston North during gallery hours: Monday – Thursday, 10 to 5; Friday 10 to 6 and Saturday, 10 to 3. The Gallery is closed Sundays and all statutory holidays except for special events.

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