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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Thirteen bodies

Mist and fluff

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

Now we are thirteen

Little people

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.

Weather trial start

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. After outside trial (1)
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.

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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!).

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They await their gradual transformation. Meanwhile the discarded paper and plastic husks are pretty interesting.

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