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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Walking trees

A site specific practice constantly brings new forms to explore. Earlier this year I was invited to participate in ‘one’s own trade’, a group exhibition and silent auction based on exchanging goods or services for artworks. Organised by Hannah Davis-Gray and Harriet Stockman, this took place in containers provided by Waterfront Auckland which were situated in an area where, historically, the loading and unloading of freight and passengers had taken place.
From Te Wero bridgeCustom tradersThe crate

https://www.facebook.com/events/365410903666866/

I think there is an inherent tension in marginal places and borders and am interested in the adaptations of life and life-forms that exist in/on the periphery of distinct or incompatible zones. Earlier experiments with root systems extending my yarn branches had generated ideas of trees that walked because of the springiness of the wire roots. Root trial (4)

The waterfront location started me thinking about the plants which exist in the intertidal zone and quickly led to paper mache versions of mangrove saplings which (not in New Zealand but in tropical areas) can stand proud of the mud and water on long roots. Red mangrove

The finished 5 mangroves were grouped, root/legs entwined and in the end gained a number of great bids so I was able to get help to do a massive cleanup and prune in the garden (work with real plants that I don’t do because I am sitting mulling over or making facsimiles of plants!)

Publicity shot Meola mangroves

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)

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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