The paintings were small, their impact was huge

Thursday August 29, 2019 Written by Published in Entertainment
Billy Apple said a few words at the opening on his conceptual ‘self-portraits’. JOHN BEASLEY 19082838 Billy Apple said a few words at the opening on his conceptual ‘self-portraits’. JOHN BEASLEY 19082838

As refreshing as an Apple – that was the verdict at last night’s exhibition opening.


One woman said she had never been to an art exhibition at the Bergman Gallery before. As soon as she walked into the gallery, she exclaimed. “I love it!”

Being one of the first to enter, her voice echoed in the gallery turning heads and bodies began moving in on Apple’s paintings that were elegantly lit against the gallery’s white walls.  

Outside the rain sprinkled but inside the gallery a warmth of laughter from the conversations that emerged and possibly from the wine where no glass was left unfilled.

The event outlined gallery owner Ben Bergman’s love and passion for art which over the years he has brought different artists to the Cook Islands and showcased artwork that the public has never seen before.

Andy Warhol is gone. John McHale is gone. Roy Lichtenstein is gone. But at 83, Billy Apple is still with us and as he sailed through the night, many were able to ask him questions about his work.

This year Apple joined scientist to discover and mark the centre of New Zealand's extended continental shelf where the Cook Islands also sits.

New Zealand's extended continental shelf is about 22 times the area of the country's landmass and the Cook Islands sits in their extended continental shelf.

Invited to create an artwork on the idea, Billy had asked the scientists “So where’s the Centre?”

He then created an artwork based on a large survey pin that marked the geographic centre of New Zealand’s continental shelf.

Apple’s wife Mary said “if you imagine a continent and put it in a bathtub, 4.5 per cent sits above the water line and that’s New Zealand.”  

She added Apple’s art “isn’t just for hanging on walls, it’s about exploring ideas in society.”

Apple had a different description. “It’s pragmatic.”

Following a great exhibition, no one wanted to leave. The night carried on with classic tunes from Rarotonga's Vinyl Revival Club founders Ian and Clare Wheeldon, who managed to get everyone tapping their feet and bobbing around.


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