Looking back, 2018 has been a full year – starting with the Whau Festival Clay workshop in May and culminating (so far) with installing work at NZ Sculpture OnShore which opened last night – November 2nd. So full that I have not been posting except a bit on facebook!
It has been a year of trying out the new and going further with the old – both techniques and materials, so in a way I feel pleased that I’ve so involved in making and thinking about making I have given little thought to putting up any information about what I am doing.
Working in the studio, playing with collage, stitch and found images has been interspersed with great opportunities:
- at Tacit gallery in Hamilton, my first time sending work to an unknown space
- at Whau Festival, bringing together my teaching experience with my enjoyment of participatory art-making in a drop-in clay workshop;
- at Grey Gallery, with Lyn Dallison and Carol Honson, showing the fruits of delving deep into themes and elements which seem part of my DNA;
- at NZSoS, focusing on the audience, both in my own work and when guiding my Year 8 students to their first experience of exhibiting;
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.
Cliffs at Narrowneck
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 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).
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!
Mist and fluff
The “fairy” beings – all mist and fluff – in suspension while I try different options for the final layer or skin. I am trying to stay true to materials and location – and the physical requirements of work that will endure a few weeks of weather and possible “casual interference” (Rob Garrett) or accidental bumps during NZ Sculpture on Shore.
Now there are 13 – a goodly number – but more planned.
Now we are thirteen
The little people have had a tough time – in keeping with legends that highlight their often difficult relationship with humans. In the name of scientific investigation they had to spend a month out in the extremes of weather which we have had since early June. This allowed much time for interesting research into the tales of sightings of fairies/hidden people (“huldra”)/little people and stories of their departure – driven away to the Western Isles, some say by science and others by Christianity. And to think about the Patupaiarehe and Ponaturi here in Aotearoa.
Remarkably the paper mache both coated and unprotected stood up well to all conditions, only needing some time to dry out once I brought them inside again.
For NZ Sculpture onShore a more robust material seemed desirable, though I still like the look and feel of paper for an inside work.
First the modern equivalent of creating their coverings from their environment – plastic – waste bags and packaging – which I melted onto the armatures.
Too cluttered, too literal. Instead I will cover their padded frames with “fabric mache” – just fine cotton strips dipped in PVA, a method I used to coat one of the paper figures – this keeps the final “fairy” light weight but gives them some solidity and will ensure they do not get damaged by “casual interference” (thanks for that phrase Rob Garrett!).
They await their gradual transformation. Meanwhile the discarded paper and plastic husks are pretty interesting.