Art seen: December 10

Plume, by Andi Regan
Plume, by Andi Regan
‘‘Criss-Cross’’, various artists

(Hullabaloo Art Space, Cromwell)

A CROSS or an X? In the final show of the year at Hullabaloo Art Space, the artist collective all worked with the same shaped canvas, but how they positioned it upon the wall and what they did with it differed widely. The result is an exhibition both cohesive, linked by a commonality of outline, and fantastically unique.

Jewellery artist Jennifer Hay’s black-painted cross acts a highly effective display for her Sugarplums and Humbugs necklaces, crafted from antique glass beads, combining the modern and the timeless in a piece that wouldn’t be out of place in the treasures of a museum.

Creating magic from the strictly utilitarian, Andi Regan’s artworks rise like a phoenix out of very industrial materials — and her vision works superlatively well here. Her Plume shimmers and flutters with hundreds of unfurled cable-ties, dyed in colours that stretch into a seamless three-dimensional expanse of plastic ‘‘feathers’’, appropriately like the cross-section of a mystical winged creature.

Lizzie Carruthers invests her animal portraits with so much personality that you almost expect to hear a purr or a squeak, and they playfully occupy as much space as they can, a cat lounging with pure feline satisfaction as he traps his prey in the lowest square of the cross.

With truly excellent pieces across the board, the must-see exhibition also provides a chance to view the work of Josephine Plimmer, the recipient of the Kay Todd Memorial Photography Award, and her striking investigation into the transformative properties of light and glass.

On the Pigroot, by Dick Frizzell
On the Pigroot, by Dick Frizzell

‘‘Whakatipu Chronicle’’, various artists

(Milford Galleries, Queenstown)

PAINTER Karl Maughan’s iconic gardens of lush blooms help usher in the summer season at Milford Galleries Queenstown, each canvas bursting with life. The vibrant flowers and lawns are neatly cultivated, drawing the viewer down an orderly path, yet there is ever a sense of nature flourishing, bringing out its rainbow of colours with joyful abandonment and revelling in the return of the sunshine. Beauty with depth — a defining quality of the collective works in the ‘‘Whakatipu Chronicle’’.

Susanne Kerr’s intricately drawn, romantic imagery is a journey that begins with pretty pastel flowers and poignant birds — and then the layers begin to unfold and the mood starts to flicker with uncertainty. Human figures stand and fall amidst the designs, several expressions imperturbable and unsettling, and a number of possible narratives unwind like the spooling ribbons that enclose and entrap their bodies.

As the light glows golden over dry grass and the mountains are cast into craggy shadows, Dick Frizzell’s On The Pigroot depicts an everyday scene in an extraordinary landscape. The winding country road is a familiar sight, one often glanced at but not actually

seen, as cars speed on in the constant race of modern life, yet somehow, when viewed through the perspective of the artist, you notice those glints of gold, that endless stretch of sky, the sheer majesty of the peaks, and appreciate anew the moments of magic that constantly surround us.

50 Cent Mixture,
by Simon Lewis Wards
50 Cent Mixture, by Simon Lewis Wards

"Slip, Slop, Slap, 2020 Wrapped",

various artists

(Gallery Thirty Three, Wanaka)

IN an image that will resonate strongly for many people around the globe in 2020, two small figures sit in pensive isolation on the edges of a precipice. The emotion behind the hunched posture could be interpreted as desolate — or, in a glass sculpture cast in oranges and yellows and pink, the shades of the sunrise and the dawning of a new day, they could be sitting peacefully, in quiet enjoyment of their own thoughts and the other’s proximity. Glass artist Di Tocker is a master at conveying intense feeling in the cleanest sweep of a line, the curve of a cheek, the tilt of a head, but in a departure from her usual fixed construction, one of the perched lovers in A Long Courtship can be picked up and moved closer to their companion — a long courtship, but not one doomed to eternal separation.

From the poignant to the abstract to the whimsical, Gallery Thirty Three closes the curtain on 2020 with a final show that, simply, is a lot of fun. Janette Cervin’s work alone is always an absolute joy; her paintings are like windows into mysterious worlds of fantastical beauty, packed so full of detail that every returning glance reveals a new facet. And it’s hard not to feel an upswing in your mood when confronted with an enormous cast glass and ceramic 50 Cent Mixture, as Simon Lewis Wards prompts tongue-in-cheek nostalgia and some serious sugar cravings with his oversized renditions of classic Kiwi treats.

Laura Elliott

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