Art Seen: January 23

In this week's Art Seen, Laura Elliott looks at exhibitions from Eade Gallery, Lorraine Higgins, and the Central Stories Museum and Art Gallery.

 

Contemplation, Blue Lake, St Bathans, by Melanie Eade
Contemplation, Blue Lake, St Bathans, by Melanie Eade
“Central Summer Memories: An Exhibition of Small Works”, Group Show (Eade Gallery, Clyde)

From painted landscapes of golden-tipped mountains and glittering lake water, to photographer Eric Schusser’s pools of ink that curl and unfurl like beach towels drying in the wind, “Central Summer Memories” collates imagery of summers past.

Many Otago artists have contributed smaller-sized works to the exhibition at Clyde’s Eade Gallery, working within basic similar parameters but given full rein to express their experiences under the region’s sun, and the result is a full appeal to the senses — the sights, the textures, even the imagined sounds and scents of a heat-drenched land.

Judy Smith’s Lupins are a splash of blooming colour, pretty and cheerful, carrying the warmth and glow of the season; while pools of blue resin roll ingeniously down Svetlana Spectra’s wooden boards, foaming on the surface like breaking waves. A figure stands by the water in Melanie Eade’s Contemplation, Blue Lake, St Bathans, lost in thought, caught in a moment of stillness and silence, and a bird soars in simplified elegance across the plane of Jillian Porteous’ Inflight.

Clouds gather ominously above fields of dry tussock and rolling hills in Sheena Lassen’s Central Summer Storm, the earthy tones perfectly capturing nature’s colour palette. As the towns fill with holidaymakers, crowds walk the hot pavement and cycle the local trails, all experiences encapsulated in the stretching shadow of a bicycle in Marion Vialade’s Shadows on the Sidewalk.

 

“Second Nature”, Lorraine Higgins (Hullabaloo Art Space, Cromwell)

Whatever sense of order and design a person tries to impose upon a garden — or indeed, life in general — in the end, nature will strew beauty and chaos where it chooses.

Artist Lorraine Higgins takes to both her studio and her garden with her solo exhibition “Second Nature”, depicting scenes from the natural world she loves, etching into boards, splashing colour and carefully weaving in delicate details and patterns. The tones and textures are vivid and vibrant, and Higgins’ lush, abstracted style creates a sense of thriving life and warmth.

Like windows into a night garden, the circular works feature etched leaves and glowing blooms against a black background; Higgins carves into the wood and uses stark outlines to create a three-dimensional effect.

There is depth to the collection in more than one respect, an intention that goes beyond the surface representation of the plants, encouraging reflection and introspection.

In the smaller square works, with their jewel tones and romantically misty composition, it’s as if you’re peeking into a secret paradise, alive with birdsong.

One more poignant piece has the blurred, soft appearance of an old photograph, as if a handful of dried flowers have been preserved on the picture plane, perhaps a nod to the inevitable passing of time and that unstoppable cycle of nature.

 

“Indigo”, Group Show (Central Stories Museum and Art Gallery, Alexandra)

From the moment you walk into the “Indigo” exhibition at Central Stories and see Megan Huffadine’s sculpture Lunar, cleverly structured with its multiple planes and abstract patterning leading into a glowing golden centre, there are delights around every corner of the gallery.

Indigo is a collective of artists working with varied media, and their latest show includes painting, sculpture and ceramics, all in very different styles, all beautifully executed.

Painter Nigel Wilson brings an early hint of autumn into the room with his abstracted, golden-hued landscapes, although it is difficult to drag your attention away from the vibrant greenery and fierce, slashing brushstrokes of Wilsons Pond, a painting that seems to capture the heavy heat of summer and the humid, still air around the water.

Luke Anthony’s very realistic bird sculptures look cheekily out at the other artworks and their viewers, acting as inquisitive-eyed little guardians of the room, and Rachel Hirabayashi demonstrates her usual technical skill and sensitivity with paintings such as Under the Lake and Man and Dog.

Hirabayashi’s work is often achingly poignant, amplified by the way in which she lets dark hues of ink bleed into one another, as if the canvas has been marked by water — or stained with tears.

From Lynne Wilson’s brightly toned ceramics to Annemarie Hope-Cross’ beautiful cameraless photography, the exhibition incorporates techniques and subject matter from across the decades and the seasons.

-By Laura Elliott

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