Sylvia Marsters: Tiare Taina

28 March - 18 April 2019 Bergman Gallery, Rarotonga

'The role of flowers within human culture is diverse. From the origin of a flower's name to its distinctive characteristics and rich mythology, flowers are infused with symbolism and meaning.  We sense the personalities of different flowers and intuitively choose one over another to fit our mood or the occasion.'

Opening Speakers:

Maria Henderson, Turi Mataiapo
Sylvia Marsters,  Artist


Gardenias have long been a subject close to the heart of Sylvia Marsters. The artist has painted them in increasing detail through out her career. Richly scented, with a full white petal bloom, they evoke a sense of warm climates, sea breeze and romance. They convey a tropical allure impossible to resist. In Rarotonga, they are ever-present. Popular in gardens, perfumes and in flower Ei (or Lei), they pervade the senses and comfort the soul, they are given, they are worn and they are highly prized.


Over the past two years, Marsters painting style has evolved dramatically. Her detail and use of colour project a powerful sense of assurance. The Gardenia bushes and flowers of her new exhibition Tiare Taina are represented in hyper detail, full evergreen shrubs with white flowers in various stages of bloom, some are buds and some have reached the end of their brief life spans. The mood of the paintings varies, from almost surreal to high definition. They are painted in various sizes, from a relatively demure, small canvas to commanding, large square images. This is not an anthropological study, nor is it an overt attempt to deliver a purely decorative work. The artist plays on the viewer's sentiment; these flowers evoke strong emotional connections, leading you down personal paths of remembrance.  To each, a different experience awaits.

For the artist, these flowers link her heritage with her present reality - the Gardenias of Aitutaki, where her father was born, and the Gardenias of Auckland, where she lives. Within these compositions, Marsters debates her sense of place, reconciling past stories of a romanticized Island lifestyle with the realities of urban existence in a modern city. A whole lifetime of experience lies in-between.