Art seen

<i>My headphones</i>, by Jessie-Lee Robertson.
My headphones, by Jessie-Lee Robertson.
''Dirt'' (Glue)

Glue has launched what is possibly its largest exhibition with the show ''Dirt'', billed as ''a national collection of experimental works made by women''. More than 100 works are presented by some 30 artists, and the exhibition spills out from the main gallery space and across much of Glue's premises.

As always with Glue's shows, the emphasis is on experimental, yet there is real substance to much of what is on display. Works range from craft pieces and clothing through to photographs, paintings, and sculptures. Notable among the latter are Zehavit Darlington's oddball figurines, and also Melissa Williams-Blair's paean to desserts, Baked and bisqued.

This veritable mountain of clay foodstuffs dominates Glue's main gallery space, along with Anet Neutze's Wall cloud mural and three impressive wallpaper/wall hangings of New Zealand female cultural icons by Julia Scarf. Clothing is a significant part of the exhibition, with Soohee Moon's garments being of particular merit. Jewellery, from the quirky to the beautiful, is also plentiful in the display.

Keri-Mei's Maori-inspired personal ornaments are noteworthy among these, as are Moniek Schrijer's found-object brooches and necklaces. Among the two dimensional art, Motoko Kikkawa's delicate tracery cut-out impressed, as did Alissa Gilbert's silk-screen work.


<i>Never let me go</i>, by Nyree McInally.
Never let me go, by Nyree McInally.
''When I grow up'', Antonia Wood, Phoebe Lysbeth Kay Mackenzie, and Nyree McInally (Blue Oyster Gallery)

Three recent Dunedin School of Art graduates have produced a group show at Blue Oyster exploring issues of security and independence, specifically from a feminist viewpoint.

Nyree McInally's figurines picture the child as the seed from which the adult grows. Her sculptures are sweet grotesques, half-formed hybrids which suggest that childhood events shape our entire lives. Simultaneously, the massive store placed by society on skin-deep bodily beauty is questioned by the work.

Antonia Wood's doll-formed structures look to attachment theories, again with the focus on child development. Her installation Hold me, with its objects wrapped in felt, carries these same thoughts through into adulthood. Here the dichotomous relationship between comfort and stress is examined, notably in the surprising, unnerving form of a soft, friendly gun.

The most affecting work is one of Phoebe Lysbeth Kay Mackenzie's two video installations. In Walk, a woman is surreptitiously filmed walking through central Dunedin at night. The woman is feigning drunkenness, but the candid responses of those around her are only too real, dramatic, and eye-opening.

This is the other side of ''slut walks'', and shows why such protests exist, with casual sexism spilling forth in all its ugly hubris. To reinforce the point, the screen is surrounded by shattered glass - the path walked is glittering, but dangerous.


<i>Untitled</i>, by Petra Fersterer.
Untitled, by Petra Fersterer.
''A Round Christmas'' (De Novo Gallery)

Diversity is of the essence in a large group show at Gallery De Novo, which has launched its annual Christmas display of uniformly sized round works by various artists. In all, 25 artists are represented, with some 75 pieces, and most are charming items. Landscapes have pride of place, ranging from Graham Tait's grand meditations on rural Otago to Michelle Bellamy's quiet harbourside retreats. A powerful series of five images by Janet de Wagt forms a mighty stormy seascape, and Martin Platt's impressionistic landforms are also memorable.

Landscape in a more indirect or abstract form is intimated by the map-inspired images of Lynn Taylor and Luke Calder, and pure abstraction is present in works by Angela Burns and Jenufa Waiti, as well as in the impressive colours of Nicki Gilmore. Portraits (both human and animal) are not neglected, and neither are still lifes.

The former range from Frank Gordon's happy caricatures through to Ewan McDougall's gleeful freak-outs; the latter are well exemplified by Beverley Frost's luscious fruit and Jan Ingram's precise studies. Overall, a high standard of work is presented, and as always it is fascinating to see how different artists have handled the constraints of the uniformly small and unusual circular format.