John Hurrell – 13 November, 2015
Perhaps the most successful work is an image of an illustration of brightly coloured birds in different trees, a dense melange involving several species, on top of which has been thrown various crumbled crusts of bread. It is not too complicated and the two types of ‘reality' mingle surprisingly successfully, with sufficient confusion to draw you in to look closely.
The Outdoors Enthusiast
5 November - 28 November 2015
Cranking up her interest in ‘Culture’, and downplaying the possible existence of ‘Nature’, Andrea Gardner continues her photographic exploration of the drawing-room ‘outdoors,’ working in a broad tradition explored by many artists (such as Boyd Webb, Megan Jenkinson or John Lyall) since the eighties. Here the ‘Wild’ is codified or visually represented self consciously.
With her domestic scaled images and small sculpture, Gardner delights in mixing the two (ostensible) opposites, while revelling in artifice and the synthetic, almost as if there is nothing beyond the reach of cultural construction. Ornately patterned textiles for covering furniture (or making curtains) figure dominantly in this scenario, or Old Master reproductions on chinaware. Many are set against black velvet backdrops, like a stump bearing an open workbook presenting a drawing of a tree, or a collapsible stool on which is a coiled hose, on which is resting an open journal of Audrey Eagle flower illustrations.
There is a delicate balance between being too arch (and apparently heavyhanded) and too subtle where the viewer misses the point. One image of fabric depicting sylvan woods, golden leaves and alert-looking deer - draped over a pile of dry crackly leaves - has small labels on the material that say ‘Real tree.’ Others are marginally less overt, like one with plastic fir trees alongside rolled up synthetic turf that is like carpet. Another still presents fake Christmas foliage covering a landscaped backdrop where a flute-playing satyr sits on a mountain peak in the background, while a ruglike disc of printed white roses emerges from a ‘leaf’ covered floor in the foreground.
Perhaps the most successful work is an image of an illustration of brightly coloured birds in different trees, a dense melange involving several species, on top of which has been thrown various crumbled crusts of bread. It is not too complicated and the two types of ‘reality’ mingle surprisingly successfully, with sufficient confusion to draw you in to look closely. Without a black backdrop this work has a particular lightness and euphoric energy, as the rhythmic images seem to tumble and spring out like a vertical and narrow waterfall. An exuberant treat, it has a different mood from the rest of the show, which seems less spontaneous and more studied.
To read a transcript of the panel discussion “Whose Oceania?” held recently in London, and more on NZ arts abroad, CLICK HERE
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