We have partnered with Tauranga Art Gallery on an art exhibition by Shannon Novak, A New Zealand artist that explores challenges faced by the LGBTQI+ community.
Shannon collaborated with the local LGBTQI+ community to create an installation at Bayfair. The installation focuses on acknowledging, supporting, and celebrating the local LGBTQI+ community in Tauranga and wider Bay of Plenty.
Shannon Novak says, “This project makes space for community voices to be seen and heard; voices from the local/national LGBTQI+ community - but particularly BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) voices who may or may not identify as part of the LGBTQI+ community, such as takatāpui”.
"I hope the project will grow public awareness around key challenges the local LGBTQI+ community faces and ultimately grow support for this community. Support takes many forms including donations to local LGBTQI+ organisations like RainbowYOUTH and Gender Dynamix who are on the frontlines. This can be monetary or in other ways like the volunteering of time. RainbowYOUTH merchandise was available for purchase at the Tauranga Art Gallery, which was one way people could directly contribute."
Shannon is a part of the LGBTQI+ community, so naturally his work has explored his own identity and the identity of others. “In the early years, I wasn’t explicit about this in my artwork as I didn’t feel comfortable or safe doing that. It wasn’t until much later that I decided to move my practice out of the closet and explore LGBTQI+ issues and challenges in the open. The trigger point for me was a growing and uncomfortable relationship with death as I got older. More and more people I knew in the LGBTQI+ community were experiencing anxiety and depression, and sadly I have lost a number to suicide, including my ex-partner. I could not let this continue - so I decided to deal with this very openly in an effort to help lower the numbers”.
"My practice looks to addressing and sapping the air out of these challenges through positivity - building awareness of these challenges with the general public and encouraging the celebration, acknowledgement, and support of the LGBTQI+ community year-round (not just during Pride season). This manifests visually as bright, colourful artwork often developed in collaboration.”
Bayfair prides itself on thinking about the big picture when it comes to providing the best for the community. Along with accessibility, we advocate for inclusivity. We love Shannon’s work and the concept, at a high level, is to help reduce rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide in the local LGBTQI+ community, through being visibly supportive in a meaningful way. Essentially, to save lives.
Takatāpui in this community refers to gender and sexual orientation diverse Maori who may or may not identify with the LGBTQI+ acronym. For example, a woman who identifies as takatāpui may also identify as lesbian, or not: https://takatapui.nz
Shannon also founded the Safe Space Alliance, an organisation that encourages businesses, individual and other organisations to list spaces that welcome the LGBTQI+ community. By joining the alliance you demonstrate zero tolerance to violence, bullying or hate speech towards the community. The Safe Space Alliance has been adopted globally. Bayfair Shopping Centre is part of this alliance and has a clear vision to being a fully inclusive centre.