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Toi Whakaari students manifest a cabinet of curiosities

07 Dec 2021

New Zealand’s newest makers and designers have been busy manifesting a series of works across their diverse practice. Toi Whakaari | New Zealand Drama School is proud to be New Zealand’s longest running tertiary provider of performing arts training, and a number of their programmes offer the opportunity for students to get first-hand experience using Resene products to create their imaginative works.

Manifest is Toi Whakaari’s annual event showcasing the work of Aotearoa’s newest makers and designers for stage and screen. The Design and Set & Props Departments combine to celebrate the work of students from the Bachelor of Design (Stage and Screen) and the NZ Diploma of Scenic Construction and Properties.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Manifest was not available for public viewing during its 2021 run from 3-5 November. Despite this, the exhibition was still attended by a large in-house audience and has been filmed and put online so supporters and the wider community can still see the wonderful works of the school’s talented graduating students.

Each Manifest has its own flavour, and 2021 was as diverse and exotic as ever. Students created spaces, images and objects to fascinate and excite. Set & Props students created a major work which is an opportunity to learn from industry mentors and deep dive into new techniques and materials. This year’s collection saw everything from the board game Jumanji to a fairytale castle. a ‘fully operational’ light sabre, swords made from real steel and stunt knives safe to battle with. There was even a portal to another dimension.

For Toi Whakaari’s Design students, Manifest was an opportunity to present themselves as artists. Work included costume, light and spatial design for live productions, a diverse range of short films and individual expressions of performance design for live and screen as part of the exciting and dynamic showcase of creative kaupapa.

Hollie Cohen, 2021 Design graduate and Manifest exhibitor, describes the experience as one that will stay with her for a long time.

“I’ve spent a lot of my journey at Toi Whakaari chasing film design - wanting to understand how mise en scene can contribute to storytelling,” Hollie says. “Our eclectic and exciting film projects that we work on throughout the degree have always kept my love of film alive and thriving – but for my independent practice this year, I wanted to explore my design craft beyond film to see where my love of written word can live in the realm of performance design. Based heavily around installation and, at times, movement and projection, my project has explored themes of human connection, seemingly mundane life, memory and vulnerability.”

Hollie Cohen and the piece she prepared for 2021 Manifest. Walls and floor in Resene All Black.

2021 Set & Props graduate Megan Gladding – who was featured in the second issue of BlackWhite magazine – along with her multi-media production company, MEAN Productions, has created videos documenting each exhibitor and the opening of the event. 

Click here to watch Manifest 2021 Online.

images Philip Merry

Published: 07 Dec 2021