Art Seen

Te Koroka. Te Wahi Pounamu. Whakatipu Wai Maori, by Mark Adams
Te Koroka. Te Wahi Pounamu. Whakatipu Wai Maori, by Mark Adams
''Archives Te Wahi Pounamu'', Areta Wilkinson and Mark Adams (Dunedin Public Art Gallery)

Ngai Tahu artist and jeweller Areta Wilkinson and photographer Mark Adams are currently exhibiting together at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery.

The artists, who are also spouses, present a collection of linked bodies of work that explore and respond to the artists' histories, culture and engagement in Te Waipounamu - the South Island of New Zealand.

Wilkinson is one of New Zealand's leading contemporary jewellers. Her work examines Maori history, culture and traditions surrounding taonga (wearable adornments) in a contemporary setting. In this exhibition a number of Wilkinson's works are presented, from jewellery to installation.

Some pieces are exceptionally beautiful, but all make an unquestionable display of history and culture.

Adams' photography explores the relationship between Maori and Pakeha since colonisation. Adams photographs sites that have special historical significance.

In black-and-white images Adams represents the historical nuances of these places as well as the ethereal and sublime nature of our landscape.

Also exhibited is Wilkinson and Adams' collaborative series of silver bromide photograms of taonga from museum collections. Unlike a photograph, these images present a shadow of the item depicted that is almost atmospheric, reflecting the significance of the objects beyond the physicality.

Dave, by Rob McHaffie
Dave, by Rob McHaffie
''Busts'', Rob McHaffie (Brett McDowell Gallery)

Brett McDowell is now hosting an exhibition of new works by Melbourne artist Rob McHaffie. These works focus on human subjects, and at the centre of the exhibition is a collection of six ceramic busts.

McHaffie works across watercolour, paint and ceramics, often contriving images from his own collages. His works are vibrant and eclectic, often humorous and frequently reflect on quirks of humanity.

Three oil paintings are brightly coloured surrealist scenes, depicting altered human forms and objects of everyday life floating in front of plain pastel-coloured backgrounds. They are curious works that mimic the disjointed aesthetics of the paper collages they were painted from, and the result is absurd yet playful.

A series of watercolours show McHaffie's collage style, but also his tendency to freeze moments in time as observations of human activity. Some Moves Happening at the Globe to Globe Music Festival in South Clayton, for example, is a study of several figures in front of a simplified stage colourfully rendered in the middle of dancing.

McHaffie's style is consistent across mediums, and the busts become real-world representations of his illustrated figures, with simple yet expressive faces.

The combination of mediums offers an interesting overview of McHaffie: he is an intriguing artist who offers a refreshingly unique view of the world.

Rhododendron and cast iron, by Lynette Barker
Rhododendron and cast iron, by Lynette Barker
''Valley Artists: Out and About'', various artists (Botanic Gardens Information Centre)

Dunedin Botanic Garden has been a supporter of many local art projects and initiatives over recent years. A few months ago I discovered that the garden actually has a permanent exhibition area within its information centre. The space allows for exhibition of paper or board works, and is available for any individual or group to apply to use at no cost, with the only stipulation that the exhibition must relate to the natural world.

Now exhibiting is ''Out and About'', a collection of works by local group the Valley Artists. The works have all been inspired by nature and are set in garden scenes, local landscapes and the garden itself, making the botanic garden a perfect preamble to the exhibition.

It is an eclectic group of works, but is nonetheless enjoyable viewing. There is a variety of techniques and materials on display, which come together to represent a joyous sense of community as all the scenes presented are familiar. Lynette Barker's painting Rhododendron and cast iron is a particular favourite, with the artist presenting a carefully rendered painting of a fence detail in front of an expressionistic foliage backdrop.

The current exhibition is on until January 16, but the space is permanent and worthy of a visit during any visit to the garden.

- by Samantha McKegg 


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