Man Made Textiles at The Dowse
Textile works by twelve contemporary male artists feature in a new exhibition at The Dowse.
"Attitudes haven't changed very much when it comes to fabric things. New Zealand is somewhere in the 1950s in terms of gender stereotypes and attitudes to fibre as an art form," – Malcolm Harrison.
Man Made, 19 October until 16 February, goes some way to quash traditional gender stereotypes of a medium more often associated with women. While textiles are also more usually linked with craft, the 'fine artists' featured in Man Made, (and listed below), work across a range of media, incorporating textiles into their art practice.
Auckland artist Gavin Hurley's Boy With .....'s Beard is a series of portraits; a pastiche of childhood and adulthood, past and present. Coincidentally, the three works from the series chosen for Man Made feature the stitched woollen beards of three of the other artists in the show, Elliot Collins, Andrew Barber and Rohan Wealleans.
Wealleans describes his embroidered family tree in Man Made as one of his most precious possessions which is usually located above his bed in his Auckland home, while fellow Aucklander Elliot Collins creates a dramatic large scale works text-based work from nails and thread, directly onto the gallery wall – inspired by more traditional nail and thread art made by his grandfather. David Brown is an emerging Wellington artist, known for his paintings featuring geometric lines and patterns.
Melbourne-based New Zealand artist Ronnie van Hout is familiar to The Dowse visitors through his exhibition here last year and his giant reclining robot in Dowse Square. In Man Made, his delicately embroidered lettering demonstrates yet another side to his art practice. Auckland artist Finn Ferrier's series Wharfwear uses braided rope to create manly necklaces while one of New Zealand's most acclaimed jewellers, Warwick Freeman's 1994 Patch is a white Ngataringa Star embroidered onto black textile.
Hemi Macgregor lectures at Massey's College of Creative Arts. His hoodies, I am no.one. You are no. one comment on Maori youth identity. Jay Hutchinson's (also a Wellington-based artist,) work at first glance looks like an ordinary wooden school desk and chair, complete with a graffiti-ed exercise book. On closer inspection, the objects are actually embroidered with silk. Auckland artist Richard Orjis seeks to connect contemporary culture with antiquity, his works dark and gothic, while Zac Langdon-Pole and Andrew Barber create abstract works by assembling pieces of fabric - Barber focussing on the geometric and Langdon-Pole more on the organic.