Maddie and the arty bees

What would happen if all the world’s bees just… went? It’s a question former CHS student Maddie Shaw sought to answer in her scholarship winning design and photography portfolios, awarded earlier this year.

Now, one of the portfolios — the design board — is on tour in an exhibition around New Zealand, coming to the Waikato from April 8 to 15 at the Waikato Museum in Hamilton.

Nicknamed ‘Top Art’, the touring exhibition contains works from the top NCEA scholarship students in each art discipline—sculpture, design and more.

Winning two scholarships in separate art disciplines last year — design and photography — was a project that took “endless hours,” according to Shaw’s teacher last year, Susan Laurent.

For her photography portfolio, Shaw scored a scholarship; for her design one, she took home an “outstanding scholarship”, putting her within the top “four or five design students in the country,” according to CHS’ art department head Zane Holton.

What makes a successful art portfolio? “Maddie Shaw,” Laurent replied. “It really is about the student driving the work — her resilience, her passion.”

It was that personal touch that inspired both portfolios.

“All these beehives were all outside my door step, with my dad being a little beekeeper on the side,” Shaw said. “It’s a hobby for him, and I’d go out there with him, suit myself up, try not to be stung, and take heaps and heaps of photos. I’d be out there the whole day just taking photos.”

In her design portfolio, which will feature in the exhibition, Shaw created a concept for a Waipā bee business, called ‘Hautapu Honey.”

“I wanted to produce something that was personal to me, in a way,” she said.

For her photography board Shaw explored an idea: the relationship between a beekeeper and their bees.

“Throughout the process I wanted to portray the ideas of the beekeeper becoming attached [to his bees] but also what would happen to the world if bees didn’t exist. Fast forward, it was really exploring what would happen if bees didn’t exist in our world. Very gloomy, very polluted,” Shaw explained.

Making it into the top art showcase is a first for CHS.

“We’d had scholarships before, but [Shaw’s] the first one we’ve had in the exhibition,” Holton said.

Both Laurent and Holton say Shaw’s success is down to her perseverance.

“She wouldn’t leave any stone unturned,” Holton said. “We see plenty of talented students. But her attitude was that she was completely open to critical guidance. That’s what makes the difference.”

“She would come up to us with a question, but she would already have answers already prepared — option one, option two, option three,” Laurent followed up.

Now at Wintec, Shaw is on the path to a three-year Bachelor in Graphic Design — while continuing photography on the side.

Those interested in attending the exhibition can contact Cherie Meecham at 07 838 6709.

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