Spring

I haven’t been inactive over the last 3 months but I haven’t been blogging!

After Whanganui, the Place exhibition travelled to Auckland and had a showing at All Goods (a former Bank building in Avondale run by Whau The People collective – https://whauthepeople.com/all-goods-whau-arts-space/ ). Wonderful showing alongside Pusi Urale’s gorgeous Blonde Maiden series with King Kapisi doing the honours at the opening.

That was July!

Then came winter, and the slow germination of work for Kaipara Coast Sculpture Garden, opening in December, for Artweek (opening next week) in two locations, and new teaching projects which as always rekindled my passion for the teaching of visual arts in school from the earliest days.

The work for Artweek (http://artweekauckland.co.nz/) will be in two locations. (Photos to come next week after they are installed).

My “Marginals” are off to spend a week in a very elegant minimalist foyer (the Spark building in Victoria St West) with black granite floor, This is as part of “Flora”, curated by Lyn Dallison for Auckland Council. I am very pleased about that location, once a clifftop overlooking the Waitemata harbour. From this high point you would have been able to see little bays and mangrove-fringed inlets. Today the land has encroached on those bays, “reclaimed” and built on so it is much further to the sea. The mangroves have multiplied, fed by run-off from farms and orchards, and fill large areas now but are suffering as they attempt to absorb the increased toxins. So here come the refugees, migrant mutants in search of a clean start. The bottom of the cliff is coming to the top of the cliff! A message, you might say.

In preparation I have been on my knees in the shed, making soft bootees for their legs to avoid scratching the floor!

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And, inside away from the ever-falling Spring rain, the wool and wire epiphytes have been growing.

For LOOK, as part of DUST collective’s entry (http://www.dustartcollective.net/), I have a small wall-hanging epiphyte, one of my trial wire and paper-mache pieces when I moved into plants with roots. The mounting of the group’s work, which Linda Roche and I are jointly curating and hanging, has been quite a job! My Technical Assistant, Mo, has been essential once more, constructing a fake wall to hang the pictures on.

And as a constant refrain, the branches for mistletoe plants for Kaipara Coast, take shape. Almost ready to assemble!

Once again I was drawn to this plant because of environmental challenges which threaten its existence.

The New Zealand mistletoes are a mix of epiphyte and parasite. They are, apart from one, only found on one type of tree. Reduction in forest and in bird numbers has meant huge reductions in mistletoe numbers as it needs a bird to eat the berries, and then poop out the seed onto a branch of the right type of tree. Only a few specimens of those varieties are still found. The one I have based my work on (but not its colour!) is Ileostylus micranthus, which is much less fussy about where it grows, even taking hold on exotic trees. Even so, I have never seen one and they are quite limited to particular areas.  “Kiss Kiss” will , I hope, draw attention to the need for forest which is large and dense enough that such plants will continue to thrive along with the fauna that are a vital part of the ecosystem. The mistletoe clusters will be placed inside a wee shelter, down in the forest area at the beautiful Kaipara Coast Sculpture Gardens (http://www.kaiparacoast.co.nz/sculpturegardens.php).

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Taking “Place” this week in Whanganui

I am thrilled by the lovely way my work has been installed as part of the group exhibition, “Place” at Space Studio and Gallery in Whanganui. Curated by Lyn Dallison (Auckland) and Sarah Williams (Whanganui), the show brings together work by artists from these two cities around the theme of place.

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For more images of the show, go to http://spacestudiogallery.co.nz/place-curated-group-exhibition/, or if you are in Whanganui this week drop into the gallery!

September projects

September has been a busy month, finishing work to take to Dunedin for an exhibition at the Inge Doesburg gallery, and being in residence at the Old Folks Association with Jersey.

Dreaming of summer is traveling South, with the addition of 4 saplings.

Saplings (19) (Medium)Saplings (20) (Medium)Saplings (31) (Medium)

They are dancing on their way!

In between working on the little trees and getting lights ready for them, I have been working in a back room at the Auckland Old Folks Association (OFA) in Gundry St, Newton. A relic of the large community that once filled the valley where the motorway now runs, it is a wonderful space to work in and spend time in.

The outside of OFA (1)The outside of OFA (2)

I have become fascinated with the huge number of doors within the building – allowing a simple, 3 room space with a kitchen to be used at one time by different groups involved in their individual activities.

Doors (1) Doors (2) Doors (3)

From the first day I had had an urge to clean the grime from the Entrance sign, to give it the brightness that OFA offers to its users. Close up to the lettering its alternative meaning, to entrance or delight, jumped out and I started playing with that idea. Doors that I was drawing and photographing percolated through my mind and out came, ADORE.

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The best thing is that people do not notice it!

Too busy to post!

Life has been overflowing – so busy making art I haven’t had time to write about it. I must admit I challenged myself this year by deciding to follow Julian Dashper’s advice to “have ten projects on the go”. I have only had four at most at any time but I think it has pushed me to get more done – although it is not a pace which would suit me all the time.

First I have finally sorted out how to finish the figures for NZ Sculpture OnShore – they will have a stony carapace which I hope will evoke the idea that they have emerged from the underlying rocks and cliffs at O Peretu (Point Takapuna), “unsettled” by the disputes rumbling over the use of the reserve land there.

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Cliffs at Narrowneck

Cliffs at Narrowneck

The finish

The finish


Painting the figures

Painting the figures

They are working well as a group. Here in the garden I get an idea of how they will look. Another five to come.

In the garden

In the garden

In an amusing side-step I worked on a single figure but with very different finish. For LOOK the JERSEY collective decided we would create some imaginative responses to the idea of the high life as in high rises and densification – an issue much discussed currently in Auckland. Out of a pile of plastic cups and plates emerged – a mini Sky Tower! And crowning that pinnacle of greed, a giant Fay Wray clasps a wriggling little King Kong. The high rises are going into the window of Iko Iko – a wonderful large window and a shop which always attracts interest with their cool stock – LOOK opens on Thursday 9th and is part of Art Week (October 10 – 19th).

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And two weeks ago I got an email about ArtWeek at Victoria Park Market – Ron Andreassend has galvanized a heap of artists and performers with his vision of a colourful occupation and transformation of this great space, still mostly untenanted after its huge renovation – such an opportunity to show work. So I decided to make some bigger figures, “swimmers” recalling the history of the location, once a beach popular for fishing and swimming before settlers started building little shacks and small industry there and then filling the whole area in – or “reclaiming” it. A word we may start to use in a different context one day if the sea rises and reclaims this space!

Swimmers take shape (Medium)Swimmers starting to paint (Medium)Swimmers undercoated (Medium)Swimmers sprayed (1) (Medium)

The importance of playing

The four weeks at Harbourview Sculpture Trail were quite an outing for my branches compared to the brief exposure to the elements in Poland – that is about their limit in the New Zealand sun! And one or two of my home-dyed leaves have “turned” because of the rain! It was exciting to push the possibilities of exhibiting knitted work outdoors. The knowledge that they will not last long outside added some tension (for me at least!) to the interest created by placing something so much of inside out in the weather.
I have continued knitting but do not yet have a set idea for what these leaves will be a part of. I am however looking forward to taking the Polish branches to Wellington over Labour Weekend to be a part of the Celebrating Everything Polish festival at the Museum of City and Sea which will precede events marking the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the Pahiatua children in Wellington on November 1st, 1944.
And it was great to be presenting the experience of Narracje 5 to fellow artists and others at AUT on April 9th.
A presentation with Gregory Bennett and Rob Garrett

It has been a very busy four months – or longer. In the middle of Harbourview I was busy making a semi-performance piece from plaster for the JERSEY community art event at Westmere Beach, ‘Between Tides’ (https://www.facebook.com/juliette.laird/media_set?set=a.620847814652500.100001818601939&type=3).

Juliette Laird The sky has fallen (10)

I poured large sheets of plaster, painted them to look like sky and on the day threw them up and over a beach chair – The sky is falling (https://www.facebook.com/juliette.laird/media_set?set=a.620836294653652.1073741829.100001818601939&type=3)

I have lately found myself diverted into a light exploration of the human figure. Starting with an idea I was thinking to use at school I found that wire and paper quickly evolved into a crowd of small lithe people. I am not sure if they are having fun or like lemmings heading to the edge of the cliff but the making process is productive.

Balancing act

Playing around with ideas without being tied to the need to make work to exhibit is very important. As I loosen up I think this has helped refine my thoughts about my branches and also the the knitted sapling, Enticement, which may go on exhibition at CIRCLE Gallery in Newmarket either next week or in 3 weeks’ time with other members of the DUST artists’ collective (http://dustartcollective.net). Talking about the work helps too – as I was describing my thoughts and understanding of the consequence for migrants of uprooting from one home (family, country and culture) I realised that the way that the tree’s branches sprout from the stake to which they are tied, and the prosthetic support of the umbrella stand keeping it upright, are just like the makeshift, transitional forms of support that immigrants are forced to adopt. And also the attempt to make the structure look as though it is real, putting on a good face, which is sad but so brave – and just as essential as the gardener’s firm bindings around the grafted branch on the rootstock.
Enticement

Transplantation before Cyclone Lusi

Ready for the opening

The work now completed stands in its quiet glade. The colours glow against the green manuka and other foliage.
I like the way only the top of a single blue tree is visible as you approach, but then the whole orchard surrounds the space.

Inviting you in

Inviting you in

The orchard

The orchard

And as for Cyclone Lusi – I have done my best to tighten all the lashings, but will see tomorrow if the branches have been blown about or stood up to the wind and rain as I hoped.