John Hurrell – 10 June, 2013
The visitor looks down on this narrow horizontal ‘abstract painting', slightly pulsing with the row of delicate pale planks on which the crafted items are laid. As with her concrete ‘floors' Newby doesn't mind if people walk on it, though its raised height psychologically discourages such an action. This skinny oblong seems to allude to the metal plates of Carl Andre.
What a Day.
22 May - 29 June 2013
Her first show in Auckland since she won last year’s Walters Prize, this Hopkinson Mossman installation carries on Newby‘s interest in floors or low planes - an aspect of two presentations she made at Auckland Art Gallery. Instead of coloured walk-on layers of concrete with embedded crystals, ceramics or other assorted items, we now have a very long low table (or platform) of creamy-pink pine planks extending over a third of the main gallery floor, and tucked tightly into three walls.
On that long low platform are carefully positioned three quilt covers with differently sized gridded squares - made with assorted fabrics, some recycled, others coloured with dyes made from local plants and scraps from the kitchen Newby used on Fogo Island, a residency she had in Newfoundland. On the centre and right are the three distinctly patterned covers, and on the far left are three chunky, speckled ceramic ‘rocks’ (seen here on the gallery window ledge in the photos). Between the two are some brightly coloured, woven objects knitted with cotton t-shirts made into a kind of squishy, crinkled rope: unusual and quite fascinating. They look like strange mats, weird car seat covers or back massagers, perhaps a form of ‘French knitting’ made with cotton reels: abandoned and mysterious.
The visitor looks down on this narrow horizontal ‘abstract painting’, slightly pulsing with the row of delicate pale planks on which the crafted items are laid. As with her concrete ‘floors’ Newby doesn’t mind if people walk on it, though its raised height psychologically discourages such an action. This skinny oblong seems to allude to the metal plates of Carl Andre. With no work in the smaller first gallery but with works in the office, Newby is clearly making an architectural statement that links opposite sides of the building, accentuating the horizontal but with no extensions carrying on through outside.
Also in the exhibition are some framed photographs and brittle, twiglike wind chimes in the office - and ceramic bells in the stairs. Unusually for Newby there are no language pieces (fabric or ceramic objects bearing text) though her whimsical and calculatedly casual titles might be a substitute. These are usually overheard snippets - and as such, found. My favourites are: ‘You’re in this somewhere’, ‘Let the other thing in’, and ‘Give back to yourself’ - a sort of (second person, soft) imperative that is suggesting (not demanding or exhorting) and deliberately imprecise.
That blurry quality is a Newby hallmark: like a sculpture that is flat and could be a painting; some recycled t-shirts transformed into a doormat; a bunch of wiggling ceramic twigs that becomes a musical instrument. Her colour is subtle, as are interventions like the rows of ceramic rocks and pebbles on the window edges. An abundance of restraint.
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