Sylvia Marsters: Utopia

16 August - 10 September 2021 Bergman Gallery, Rarotonga

Opening Speakers:
Teresa Manarangi - Trott, Keynote
Sylvia Marsters, Artist

Since 2004, Sylvia Marsters' flower compositions have propelled viewers into a dimension of Island fantasy. Magnificent Gardenias are ever-present in the islands of the Pacific and they surrounded her growing up in Auckland. They were a personal connection, emblematic of stories of her father's upbringing on Aitutaki in the Cook Islands. They were also a mechanism of escape, a fleeting moment of respite from the urban realities of the artists childhood. As a global pandemic rages today, the need to construct a new reality takes on added meaning.

Marsters states, 'the flora of the Pacific maintain significance in my work, they are meaningful, expressive, iconic flowers. Gardenia's possess spiritual qualities. Bright white flowers against a deep green contrast capture the eye. Like stars in the night sky, complex forms, forcing a moment of meditation, serenity, stillness and calm. A Utopia. Through a year of unprecedented change, these intimate compositions hold even more significance. Natures perpetual rhythms transcend religion, politics and an ego's constant chatter, offering an alternative to the dystopian narratives that pervade our world.'

The works of this exhibition incorporate three large paintings executed before the onset of the pandemic, added to these are four new works painted this year. They present an interesting dialogue. They confront notions of the ephemeral, life vs. death, fantasy vs. reality, life before the pandemic and priorities now. Above all, Marsters flowers offer a moment of serenity amongst the chaos of the everyday. Today, the chaos is global, and the answer is complex. As a species we are hopelessly conflicted along cultural, political, religious and socio-economic lines, yet there is a strong sense of optimism in Marsters new works as the artist seeks out our best attributes. The new paintings are titled, Glow, Light Within, Prism and Meditation. The flowers of these paintings are full of life and promise for a brighter future despite the circumstances of our present.

It will take a fundamental moment of serenity to address what divides us, a moment of Utopia, not in the physical sense, but in the transcendent. Only then, when we recognise our collective interest, will we begin to protect our collective future.