Solo 2012: Four Wellington Artists
12 May – 19 Aug 2012
I came to see the Ben Buchanan piece and LOVED IT. It is fantastic. It's like disco meets a wall! It's wonderful that it appears differently depending on where you are standing. A really fun and vibrant piece. Thanks for showing it.Dowse visitor comment
Four solo exhibition projects by Wellington artists — Cat Auburn, Ben Buchanan, Matt Hunt and Ann Shelton— work across a range of media and concerns.
Cat Auburn: Training Aids
Cat Auburn's herd of deer flock in clusters around the gallery. Made from expanding foam and with the seams left showing, Auburn is not attempting to create convincing replicas or elaborate trickery. Rather, the creatures represent lightly sketched out forms, which, although simple, conjure up the lithe movements of fawns in mid-flight. Brought up in the country where she rode horses competitively, Auburn's work is invested with her childhood sense of how animals communicate with and react to each other. She is interested in the way we humanise animals so that they become, 'an interface into which people relate to each other'. The exhibition's title, Training Aids, alludes to the elaborate set of blinkers worn by each deer, a reference to the disciplinary aids used in the training of animals, particularly horses; such as bridles, whips and spurs. The artist's use of blinkers, although highly decorative, suggests underlying measures of control and restraint. Auburn says she is concerned with social constructs, or the numerous invisible systems by which humans are "trained up to participate in society; or the pressure to look a certain way".
Ben Buchanan: Forever
Ben Buchanan describes himself as a colourist, who generates intensely hued patterns that pulse in syncopated rhythms. Buchanan uses sign-writing vinyl to stick onto the surfaces of the gallery, making paintings which wrap round walls and spill onto the floor. The vinyl is cut by hand and applied directly to the wall in a series of concentric geometric shapes. Although the initial impact is of grid-like perfection, on closer viewing this hand crafted application creates an imperfect surface quality that softens the hard-edged abstraction. The title of his work, Forever, alludes to the idea of infinity, and suggests that Buchanan's work might reverberate out indefinitely.
Matt Hunt: Seeing All Of Tomorrow
The large cast of characters that inhabit Matt Hunt's paintings—animals, humans and unearthly beings—are caught between two worlds, good and evil. Hunt's work has been described as 'spiritual realism' and his art evokes an ominous and prophetic stance on theology. The paintings take their source material from his eclectic interest across pop culture, science fiction, comics, the Bible and art history; along with his personal philosophies and dreams.
Ann Shelton: In A Forest
Photographer Ann Shelton's intriguing images are of trees gifted to gold medalists at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games.
"Often referred to as 'Hitler Oaks', the then seedlings were in fact given by the Olympic committee to around 130 medalists who then returned to their homes all over the world – in most cases with the seedlings. One of these trees, now an adult oak, grows in my home town of Timaru, New Zealand, in the grounds of Timaru Boys High School. This tree became the centrepiece of my inquiry and represented a beginning point of this project when I photographed it in 2005." - Ann Shelton,
From the curator, Emma Bugden: Linking nature with nationalism, each of the 130 gold medallists at the fraught 1936 Berlin Olympic Games was awarded an oak sapling. Back in the athletes’ home countries, ‘Hitler Oaks’, as they are sometimes known, were planted in a variety of public and private sites, from civic parks and squares to a stadium, schools, and private gardens. Over time the trees have died, been chopped down or neglected, but photographer Ann Shelton has tracked remaining trees across Europe and the US. Often unmarked, those that have been recorded by their communities maintain an uneasy role; commemorated for their connection to success, yet tainted by the stigma of Nazi Germany. War memorials are usually built from permanent materials such as metal and stone and assume a monolithic status. Living trees might not be immediately recognisable as monuments, but Shelton’s work links each to its back story, providing a counter-memorial to official sites of mourning. Taking as her subject matter “trauma, anxiety, violence and failure”, she uncovers their obscured or lost histories. Ann Shelton’s photography is the result of detailed and intensive research, peeling back layers of history and building up new strata of meaning. In 2005, in her home town of Timaru, she captured the beginning of this series, the oak awarded to Jack Lovelock for his gold medal in the 1500 metres and subsequently planted in the grounds of his former school, Timaru Boy’s High School. The works are exhibited as a series of diptychs, presented as a set of inverted doubles, a format that allows us to experience the trees as a series of abstract shapes. This process, which Shelton has termed ‘stammering’, refutes a singular narrative, hinting at the constructed and uncertain nature of history itself.