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Synergy Exhibition: Art helps father and autistic daughter communicate

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Dwight Fraser and his daughter Finley McLuckie are exhibiting their art together at Cover Yours, Paraparaumu Beach. Photo / Rosalie Willis

For Dwight Fraser and Finley McLuckie, art is a form of escapism, and it is also a craft that has brought the father and daughter closer together.

Their first art exhibition together opened yesterday at Cover Yours in Paraparaumu Beach, in partnership with Creative Manaaki and the Kāpiti Art Studio.

Dwight and Finley have created Synergy, an exhibition that takes you into their worlds.

It is named after the idea that the combined power of a group of things that, when working together, is greater than the total power achieved by each working separately.

The exhibition shows the similarities and differences in their work with the mystical otherworldly feel carried throughout both artists’ pieces.

Always scribbling, Dwight’s creative journey began when he first held a pen and has now developed into part of his lifestyle.

“I don’t subscribe to any particular style, I love everything from graffiti to abstract, fine art, comics, movies, theatre, cosplay and sculpture.

“We are both multifaceted in our artistic approach.

“I’m that person where if there’s a pen and paper close, I’m scribbling something out.”

While mostly self-taught, Dwight studied at The Learning Connexion for a while and works mostly in inks, airbrushing and acrylics. He upcycles anything he can be creative with.

Dwight’s daughter Finley, 18, is a Kāpiti College student who also attends The Learning Connexion once a week along with the Kāpiti Art Studio.

Starting her creative journey as a way to communicate with her family, Finley found it easier to express herself through her drawings than with words.

With high-functioning autism, Finley uses art to communicate and escape.

Finley draws places and characters she has imagined as well as her friends and family.

She works in a wide variety of mediums from inks, pencil and paint to sewing and embroidery.

Finley was also a finalist in the IHC Art awards 2022.

“Since Finley was little, the communication tool we used was drawing – with her sister, myself and her mum,” Dwight said.

“When Finley was little I was on my journey as an artist and got to teach art at Raumati South School where Finley was for a bit and now we are getting to do art together again now she’s older.

“Finley has learned from me, but also from her own little worlds that she creates with intricate detail.”

Finlay adds: “I have a crazy, beautiful imagination and create all kinds of worlds on my own.”

Finley’s works at Cover Yours feature glowing trees from her imaginative world, with acrylic and spray paint delicately painted onto the canvases.

Working on her pieces for a number of months, Finley said it is especially exciting being able to exhibit them alongside her father.

“I think Dad’s especially excited to exhibit together.”

Meanwhile, Dwight is enjoying the connection art enables them to have and is making the most of accompanying Finley to her Learning Connexion classes.

“We are both trying to find our place in the art world together,” he said.

“The journey never ends, art is a lifestyle.”

Synergy exhibition was made possible thanks to Marc Hamilton at Cover Yours, Jenna-Lea Philpott from Creative Manaaki and Rebecca Bond from the Kāpiti Art Studio.

This is a Public Interest Journalism-funded role through NZ On Air

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