For anyone travelling State Highway 1 from Kaitaia to Whangarei, crossing the Mangamuka Scenic Range is likely to be the most memorable part of the journey – not only for it’s numerous twists and turns, but for the stunning views from it’s 383m summit that looks out across the Raetea Forest towards the west coast.
This pristine forest, with its moss-covered rocks, tangled supple-jack and rocky-bottom rivers is anendless source of inspiration for local artist Magda Cotman. Her paintings reflect the cool, quiet and sometimes unnerving magic of the forest. They communicate her love of the Far North, where she spent her childhood and now lives and paints on her small lifestyle block at the base of the Mangamuka Gorge. “It can be isolating here, you can feel a bit disconnected from the rest of the world”, admits Magda, but asserts the area has a special quality that keeps her there. “It’s a hidden treasure because not many people know about it but when people come here and experience it they don’t forget it – it’s quite a magical place”.
Although Magda has been painting since her early twenties, it’s only been in the last year and a half that her focus has moved from developing her technique and style to expressing her personal experiences, in particular with her feelings relating to having years of chronic pain and not being able to do the things that other people can do.
What is most striking about Magda’s work is the exquisite detail captured in each stroke, renderingeach image with near photographic clarity. It’s not surprising that she has given each of her forty pet Indian Runner ducks their own name, using their unique markings to tell the birds apart – an unimaginable feat for most people.
Magda is currently in the process of transforming a retired party bus, Purple Rain, into a gallery, which she is lovingly restoring by hand; complete with thermal insulation, a potbelly stove and divan couches. She plans to also use it as a studio and teaching space, as she would like to help others find themselves as artists by passing on what she has learned. For her, art has been a means to finding a sense of self-worth and value.You can contact Magda on 020 400 33080 or email email@example.com to visit her studio orenquire about art classes.