Art Scene, February 1

Joanna Osborne visits some new exhibitions on in Dunedin.

Study No. 4 (1997), by Don Peebles. Acrylic and charcoal on linen.
Study No. 4 (1997), by Don Peebles. Acrylic and charcoal on linen.

"Summer Collection", Selected artists
Fe29 Gallery

Over 70 works by almost 20 artists make up the Summer Collection show at Fe29 Gallery in St Clair. Comprehensive yet considered, this selection is a tightly curated reflection of the gallery’s stable of artists.

In the main gallery is a career-spanning range of works by the artist couple Tanya Ashken and John Drawbridge. Ashken’s elegant bronze sculptures like Wave (1961) and Gold Apollo (2022) are placed in proximity to early and late oil on canvas works by Drawbridge, like Light on a Hanger (1961) and Istanbul Hotel II (2004), for example.

Ashken and Drawbridge were two of the first artists that Fe29 Gallery represented.

In adjacent rooms, key works by Drawbridge’s contemporaries, Don Peebles and Robert Macdonald, are featured, along with Cibachrome prints by Di ffrench. Small sculptural works by Marté Szirmay, Christine Hellyar and Marian Fountain can be found throughout the galleries.

Recent paintings by Philippa Blair are placed in conjunction with a new addition to the fold by Larisse Hall, a hand-stretched painting that subtly illuminates with changes in the light.

This showcase of work is a cohesive conversation across genres. Centred on a community of modern art practitioners, multiple interpretive and stylistic relationships can be drawn between the works and within the oeuvres represented.


Toroa/Toloa, (2022) by Sione Faletau. Film still. Courtesy of the artist.
Toroa/Toloa, (2022) by Sione Faletau. Film still. Courtesy of the artist.

"Toroa/Toloa", Sione Faletau
(Dunedin Public Art Gallery Rear Window Programme)

Curated to coincide with the hatching of toroa, northern royal albatross chicks, in late January to early February at Taiaroa Head, this exhibition layers the sound of the fangufangu, or Tongan nose flute, with re-interpretive digital renditions of traditional kupesi patterns.

Toroa/Toloa is a visualisation of sound composed to resemble the segmented and repeated motifs of a Tongan tapa cloth and the sound waves are set as a ratio in reference to the 3.5m wingspan of the toroa. Toloa, meaning wild duck, is a Tongan reference to the Southern Cross, traditionally used for navigation. Ideas associated with navigation and voyaging, resilience, and care, are closely linked.

Stylistically and musically engaging, the soundtrack includes a recorded section, or melody, of a longform traditional poem titled Me’etu’upaki over an undulating depth of sound - multiple frequencies are directly responsible for the images on screen — an evenly paced sea of neon blue soundwaves.

Referring to "The long waves of our ocean" (2022) exhibition at Wellington’s National Library Gallery, "Toroa/Toloa" also includes the poem Toroa: Albatross (1987) by Hone Tuwhare (reproduced for viewers in the exhibition statement text alongside the work).

The addition of Tuwhare’s poem provides us with another interpretive lens through which to understand the work.


Couple Reading, (2022) by Sandra Bianciardi. Oil on canvas, 54cm×65cm.
Couple Reading, (2022) by Sandra Bianciardi. Oil on canvas, 54cm×65cm.

"Recital", Sandra Bianciardi
(The HoP Gallery)

Recent paintings by Sandra Bianciardi maintain the artist’s interest in the human figure, allegory and everyday life, and a refined understanding of colour theory.

An immediate feature of this body of work is Bianciardi’s preference for a cool colour palette and a demonstrated understanding of the relationship between light and colour. There is a consistent application of the same cool shades of blue and lemon-green yellow across the works, for example.

The quality of the light source is also integral to the painting process and the viewing experience. The diffuse quality of daylight on an overcast day, for example, has a different effect on the works not shown under the gallery light source.

For Bianciardi, an intuitive making process is also important. The artist works to connect both current events and an allegorical and everyday preoccupation with the figure. Some of the works, like A Drop of Water Never Flows by the Same Point (2023), plays with more abstract or philosophical ideas associated human activity in the world.

Bianciardi seems to paint in order to think: both through the formal considerations of making a composition and to explore existential reflections on being in the world.

The HoP Gallery in Mornington is open on Thursday afternoons or by appointment.