John Hurrell – 5 June, 2011
Interestingly this exhibition has several connections with her last Gambia show. Firstly - most obviously - the use of a thin curtain as a barrier to be walked around, secondly the use of open doorways and narrow spaces as found, enterable sculptures, and thirdly, a preoccupation with language and its materiality.
I’ll Follow You Down The Road
19 May - 18 June 2011
It’s been some time since Kate Newby last showed in Auckland, last in Sue Crockford, and just before, Gambia Castle’s Thinking with Your Body in 2008. She’s been overseas doing residencies in Mexico and Germany.
Interestingly this exhibition has several connections with that Gambia show. Firstly - most obviously - the use of a thin curtain as a barrier to be walked around, secondly the use of open doorways and narrow spaces as found, enterable sculptures, and thirdly, a preoccupation with language and its materiality. There are many other aspects too: her love of making ceramics, and the animism - a deep affection for inanimate objects as if they possess souls and are alive.
With the latter, a river stone down in the loading dock has been painted by her and Melanie Kueng with a mixture of egg yolk and crushed blue pastel. The curtain ‘wall’ is in fact a long piece of brown linen draped over her roof during a storm, and a title that consists of a list of jobs that need to be done, is the name for a pair of old sandals she has positioned in an exposed space behind the false wall.
Other works allude to the activities of her friends in Gambia Castle. You’d better get ready to go, that mentioned crawl space that enables plasma screen wiring to be hidden, references her own curtains, various block or plywood walls she has constructed over the years, and Fiona Conner’s false floor. Plus it contains a rolled up Andrew Barber painting.
Its gruff bossy title is similar to the name of a near-invisible wonky line of nails hammered into the floor, Don’t You Scandalise My Name. The language is more memorable than the signified artwork, dominating it, possibly usurping it. It also has a cunning reflexive humour because you first think the name being referred to is Newby’s - but it also might be this artwork’s, and talking about itself.
In the office is an amusing photo by music scholar Paul Elliman of a sparrow investigating the upholstery of a car. (Elliman provides an amusing little text for the catalogue.) Nearby we can see some of Newby’s ceramics on a table (Messy Street) made of eucalyptus power pole crossbars and matai doors. The ceramics are rocks and scrapers (‘soundsticks’) - the latter being solid gϋiros that provide a washboardy, textured, rasping sound. The title of those instruments (Walks with Men) nicely matches the show’s title, I’ll Follow you Down the Road - two one line poems that determine bodily actions, that almost don’t need to be titles at all, that can exist independently, free of graphic lettering, sound or physical sculptural connections.
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