I’m immensely grateful for my mentor and friend, the late Allie Eagle, a remarkable New Zealand artist, who passed away in May 2022
Introduced by Peter and Jessica Crothall, of Chrysalis Seed Trust, she made her way South for extended stay in our home in 2009. We were in the thick of a home remodel then, too.
Because of her embrace of Maori culture, Allie added smoked eel and pipi to our feast fare when the now late Irene Mura Schroder, clay slab artist and Southland Museum curator, gifted her a parcel of Titi (or muttonbird) from Irene’s latest family pilgrimage to the Titi (Muttonbird) Islands in Foveaux Strait off Southland, New Zealand. Allie offered prayers to the Lord, thankful for the sacrifice that the creatures had made in order for us to consume them.
Larger than life, Allie made things happen, forging strong friendships wherever she went. I arranged for her to lead a workshop in the auditorium at Southland Museum. The artists loved her. I reconnected with one who had attended Allie’s 2009 workshop whilst at a 2021 Sue Cooke print workshop in Gore. Her encounter with Allie had totally changed the course of her practice. (I was attending Sue’s workshop because Allie had sent me a message telling me she highly recommended her workshop. Ms. Cooke was chuffed about Allie’s recommendation. Allie was ever the connector.)
Travelling with Allie after her stay, I spent several days at her residency at River Pa in Otaki, outside Waikanae. Alongside several other artists at her week long workshop, Allie discipled on ways to consider our approach to our own arts practice. She taught no technique. Her influence on my own practice is immense.
After my 2010 Ephemeral Perception show in Gore, Allie urged me to create works on large handmade rabbit skin gesso supports. Two pieces were 1×2 metres and another two were 1×1. Perhaps pleased with the progress images I’d emailed her, she phoned me to say she wanted to name the works for Out of Hand. I was honoured and terrified.
I’m grateful I said yes when Jillian Wordsworth, a peer from my time at River Pa, invited me to share a B&B in May 2021 in Nelson, along with Allie, the lovely Lorraine, and the effervescent Miriam. What a memorable time. Days, we attended Majesty, a workshop of Christian believers hosted by the Atelier Gallery. At night, we renewed our friendships and conversed about the different place the world had become with the pandemic.
Allie admonished me to remember what she had earlier told me: principally, the importance of a contiguous body of work. Combined with discoveries made during an Amanda Watson abstraction workshop at the Atelier Gallery I was thrust forward in my pursuit of abstraction.
I loved Allie’s kindness. Drawn to souls that the world would often bypass, she embraced them as a big sister or mothering influence. Our last two days in Nelson found Allie, Lorraine, and me travelling to nearby rural locales reconnecting with her extended family.
Allie invited us to accompany her to give a presentation to the curators at Suter, the public art institution in Nelson, about a possible future show there. I’m grateful I was able to witness Allie relating the overarching history of her career, including the show she’d previously had there.
Always interested in healing and community, she desired her new exhibition be one of compassion and forgiveness. I’m thankful that I videoed the heart-felt presentation to Suter. Watch it below, which, for now, is available only through this blog.
Allie Eagle presenting to the suter Gallery in 2021
News of Allie’s passing last year came at a pretty dark time for me. I found myself freezing in my half-finished home, piled to the ceiling with my stuff because the builder needed an extended break to take care of his own affairs. And I was mourning the loss of my mother and my business. I’m only now able to share publicly about Allie’s passing.
As I climbed out of my duress last autumn, I recalled Allie words, sometimes given when I would get too concerned about my state of affairs; “Oh, Beverly!! Get over yourself!” (Often followed by a hug and laughter) You’re right, Allie! Great words from a great lady!
Dear Allie. Thank you. I miss you and will see you on the other side.
Please Click the video below to watch the third of the five-part “Red Playground-Finish What you Started” series to learn more about this new season of my creative life, including the influence Allie had on me.
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