Friday, April 06, 2012

Call and Response

The lovely Sculpture Park at Waitakaruru Arboretum has a new exhibition on for Autumn: call and response, curated by Kim Paton and featuring all early career artists. I walked around last week and really enjoyed myself. It is a very fun show with lots of playful interactive pieces.

Taarati Taiaroa's Site drawings involves borrowing a pair of scissors and buying an envelope printed with instructions for foraging from trees around the park.  I chose kahikatea and enjoyed sweet little red berries.

Grace Tai's Sound Hunt : Traces was even more fun with a treasure hunt  for brightly painted boxes hidden around the park, some making a doorbell noise to lead you to the others which had log books, postcards and photos to take in exchange for some small gift back. I made little origamis out of bright gum foil wrappers and took some lovely images home with me.

Another interactive piece was Amber Pearson's happiness tree and good luck gravel. Both demanded some energetic hard work on the hand pump to bring the sculptures up to standing.  This is me pumping up the happiness tree, always a worthwhile endeavour. Good luck gravel shed silver glitter as it grew and I didn't like it so much, perhaps also because of the large bush cockroach than ran out of its folds very close to my face.

Blankets featured in a couple of the pieces, the most successful I thought was this (untitled) by Karen Burns in which the folded blankets lined a large wooden box with a (replica) 1853 musket, a bible in Maori and some beer bottles.  The blankets were all folded with their lovely vintage labels showing, and since I have a thing about blanket labels I photographed each of them individually.

I'm fascinated by the industrial history of the gravel quarry that transformed the landscape at the site before it was planted up by the current owners, so I appreciated Ryan Monro's RIP Greywacke in which little boxes with a big chunk of gravel were scattered inconspicuously around the edges of the quarry.

At the bottom of the quarry Veronica Herber's Slowness Shifting II was a lovely subtle cascade of masking tape down the rocky cliff face and across the path.

Two of the artists I am most familiar with in the show were tucked into the shady forest edges.  I've seem many photographs of Nell Nutsford's Mould, erosions and extrusions but to see them in real life set in the landscape was a whole new experience.  As large glossy photos in a white gallery they seemed purely conceptual, but in among moss and lichens they seemed like they were a new kind of alien plantlife growing our of the gravel.

I met Ross Forbes last month at the opening of Sculpture and Object at Sanderson Gallery where we both had work.  Once again, his signature style was transformed away from the gallery into something much more organic.  With his shards of mirror reflecting foliage instead of walls, and the balance of ropes and weights seeming more precarious on a rocky hillside, and the whole thing covering a much bigger space, I found "clash crash bang" very beautiful and exciting.

There's lots of other work in the show that I liked, and very little that is predictable or boring.  If you are in the Waikato I'd recommend checking out this show before it finishes on 10 June.  I think it would be great to take children around and even people who aren't usually that interested in art would, I think find it stimulating.

The image at the top of the post is  part of a zombie woodland creature picnic, Antoinette Ratcliffe's Freeze Sucker.

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