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Art in Martinborough - a weekend with Sheyne Tuffery

Block printing with Sheyne Tuffery

This weekend talented artist Sheyne Tuffery held a block printing workshop as part of his "Retrospect" exhibition currently showing in the Backspace Gallery at Thrive clothing, Martinborough.

We were invited along to see the workshop in progress & talk to the artist - it's fantastic to see an artistic event like this happening in the village... We are keen supporters of the arts & all credit to the team at Thrive / Backspace Gallery for putting this together.

So we called in expecting to see a small table with a few people quietly working, what we found was a fully equipped block printing studio, literally humming with creative energy & industrious students creating incredible works of art.

Pretty impressive to see this just pop up in the middle of Martinborough as though it had always been there! All surrounded by an inspirational backdrop of Sheyne's incredible works... this artist is clearly serious about creativity & a passionate art tutor as well.

Read on for a bio of the artist himself, inside the block printing workshop, as well as some behind the scenes pix... stunning!

Sheyne Tuffery - The Artist

Sheyne Tuffery is a Wellington based multi-media visual artist whose primary mediums are painting, animation and printmaking. Well known for the dynamic style of his prints and woodcuts, Sheyne describes himself as "a paper architect who uses his work to create and represent his own cultural context and sense of belonging."

Sheyne tells us he "got into art" as it was his best subject at school. "I suck at maths" he laughs... "Ive always been creative & went through to art school to see if I wanted to do it & loved it, so just kept going". Sheyne describes how at art school he started doing figurative work then moved into architecture prints, favouring a method known as "paper architecture". Inspiration for this was Brodsky & Utkin, Russian architects who became artists by rebelling against communistic oppression.

Sheyne is also inspired by a "lost Paradise" look, from before World War 1 - when the Germans were in Samoa. He takes prints from old photos for inspiration on this theme & has a liking for the art of post-impressionist artist Gaugin. Samoan Chiefs & classic cars both feature strongly in his work, Sheyne describes the cars as a connection to growing up in Auckland & these classic cars being iconic in that period of his life.

Sheyne is easy going & accessible, it's a privilege to spend time chatting with him, his art & print making is nothing less than incredible! We strongly recommend you visit his exhibition which is showing at Backspace gallery to April 28th.

Read on for a inside look at the fascinating workshop held this weekend in Martinborough!

Inside the print workshop at Thrive's Backspace Gallery ^

Two days of total immersion in a block printing workshop with one of New Zealands renowned artists sounds like creative heaven to us. Visiting the workshop & seeing the collective artists in action was evidence of this. The workshop was clearly a well organised creative space with no moment of each 6 hour session over the two days wasted - this group were seriously industrious with creative flow filling the room like a tidal wave. Nothing was going to slow down or stop this creative train. The lino cutting, chisels, the printing press, ink, art materials scattered on work tables & stunning works of art all took us back in time to art rooms from yesteryear.

The artist / tutor Sheyne Tuffery - a master of his craft - oversaw the activity with obvious pride in the work being put through by the group. We get the feeling Sheyne is in his creative element, sharing a love of print making, an area in which he is considered an expert. Sheyne has been taking these classes for many years... yet he embraces the workshop with such enthusiasm you'd think it was a new venture, even at the end of the day he's smiling & talking enthusiastically about the creative processes & artistic output with a sparkle in his eye.

We were lucky enough to catch up with the workshop participants at the end of the weekend, here are some of their comments:

"Totally involving, well structured - started creating within the first hour" - Angela Martinborough

"Productive workshop, an empowering method of teaching, Sheyne guiding rather than directing" - Sadie Wellington

"Struck by the prolific output of art work - amazing! - Shannon Masterton

"Simply fantastic! Explosive fun" !! - Joanne Wellington

"Amazing initiative, really individualistic, appeals to a broad section of people" - Jhan Wellington

"Absolutely fantastic & inspiring!" - Vicky Martinborough


A bonus of the workshop is that the students get to hang their works alongside Sheyne's! These works are available for sale & before we left 3 prints had already sold! Exciting!

scroll down for images from inside the workshop & more!

The printing press ^

Artists creating ^

Sheyne Tuffery - in his element ^

Completed works of art ^

We came away feeling inspired, grateful & excited at the end of the weekend.

  • Inspired by the calibre of creativity we had witnessed
  • grateful that "Art in Martinborough" is alive & flourishing.
  • Excited at future prospects... that what we've seen happening here today is a sign of many more artistic experiences to come.

    A home for Art in Martinborough has been created by the team at Thrive in the Backspace Gallery & we thank them for this gift. Exhibitions & works of this high standard are proof that a strong foundation has been built from which to continue a solid cultural hub in Martinborough village.
    We must all support this initiative! We know from past experience that maintaining an artistic centre can be a fragile business, lets not let this one go by people... t's too important.

    Thrive's model of using a "back room" shop space in a smart way to support & promote the arts is proof that you don't need to spend millions on a cultural centre! What Thrive's done here by engaging with artists & involving the community is clever & savvy! It works because it's format is simple & well executed, but also because people are engaging with it.

    So next time you're passing Thrive, make sure you call in. Actually why not make a special trip to Martinborough & see what's going on at the Backspace gallery. We're telling you, it's worth the trip.

    Sheyne Tuffery "Retrospect" showing at Backspace Gallery to 28th April - more info here Backspace Gallery

    Trish Higginson & Karina Hailwood
    Martinborough Village
    "Let us show you the magic of our special town"
    Copyright MV 2015

    Acknowledgements to the team at Thrive's backspace gallery for making this happen. Special thanks to Sheyne Tuffery for his artistic accessibility