Echo – an exhibition of cubes, bees and whimsy

Last Sunday afternoon, I moseyed over the hill to Gordonton and The Mandarin Tree for the opening of Echo.

Echo is a collaboration by artists Claudia Aalderink and Santie Cronje. At first glance, it looks like they create totally different art. You can certainly tell each artist’s work by the medium. Claudia uses recycled beehives to construct her geometric pieces, and Santie’s work is painting and mixed-media.

Santie Cronje and Claudia Aalderink at their collaborative show, Echo.
Santie (on the left) and Claudia with their art (Santie’s paintings on the right, and Claudia’s round tondo on the left). And that colourful, geometric artwork on the plinth – those are actually marshmallows by Artisan Sweets…

But I loved how Claudia and Santie’s art came together. Each piece plays with their inspiration of cubes and bees, and I felt a strong thread of nature and the outdoors as well. They’ve woven in colours that draw the pieces together – a bright turquoise, pine-needle green, and rust red. And I enjoyed finding the splashes of whimsy that made me look, and look again.

Echo, a collaborative exhibition by artists Santie Cronje and Claudia Aalderink.

Claudia’s gone all out exploring texture and shape. There’s hedgehog-like spines, cubes and blocks, and huge, colourful, 3D quilt-like pieces. My favourite was her block sculpture – at first glance it reminded me of wooden children’s blocks, then a totem pole, or maybe you look through the hole at the top when the sun is at juuust the right angle and it leads you to treasure! And I geniusly didn’t get a photo so you’ll have to go and see it for yourself!

Echo, a collaborative exhibition by artists Santie Cronje and Claudia Aalderink.
On the left, “Landform” by Santie Cronje.

Santie said the pieces for Echo are a new direction for her, but I could still see her storytelling. I was drawn to Landform, a mixed media photo-collage on unstretched canvas. In the background, you see a typical Waikato countryside. There’s the steel gate leading into the paddocks. There’s the number 8 wire fences and a dotted row of white-headed standards and tape snaking into the distance. There’s the stand of trees at the edge of the paddock. And in the foreground, a huge, alien cube has landed, casting a green glow over the landscape. It’s eerie, moody, and really rather wonderful!

So if you’re out Gordonton way (or fancy a sunny, weekend drive), I highly recommend a stop at The Mandarin Tree to see Echo.

What: Echo, a collaborative exhibition by Claudia Aalderink and Santie Cronje
Where: The Mandarin Tree, 1034 Gordonton Road, Gordonton
When: Open Tuesday to Friday 10 am – 5 pm and Saturday 10 am – 2 pm. Echo on until the 23 of March.

Keep on shining bright,