Art Seen: Laura Elliott

In this week's Art Seen, Laura Elliott looks at exhibitions from Lynne Wilson, Gallery Thirty Three, and Milford Galleries

Cross Culture Series Cromwell & Arrowtown, by Lynne Wilson
Cross Culture Series Cromwell & Arrowtown, by Lynne Wilson
''Forged in Clay'', Lynne Wilson (Eade Gallery, Clyde)

Lynne Wilson's most impressive exhibition to date, ''Forged in Clay'' looks at the traditions around memorials - the epitaphs and sculptures that humans create to mark the impact of an individual life.

Inspired by the oldest areas of the Central Otago cemeteries where the early settlers were laid to rest, the gravesites often enclosed by stone and iron, Wilson interprets that imagery through her ceramic art.

Working in the Raku method of firing, she draws a parallel between the methods of sculpting from clay and forging in iron, with the final product from each medium emerging from earth and taking shape in heat and fire.

The symbolism of the cross is prevalent in the collection, and the Cross Culture series is among the most striking. There is both an elegance and a majesty to Wilson's work, with the coolness of white porcelain juxtaposed against glossy metallic details that give richness and opulence.

In Cross Culture Series and Cross Culture Series St. Bathans, the innermost recesses of the crosses shimmer with an oilslick effect, catching the light and shifting through shades of amber, blue, purple and green.

The most poignant pieces are the Memorial Caskets, beautiful decorated porcelain chests to keep safe the remains of a loved one, one grander and more formal in appearance, the other covered with blooming flowers, signs of the perpetual cycle of life.

 

Toothpaste — Mcleans, by Philip Jarvis
Toothpaste — Mcleans, by Philip Jarvis
''Pots & Possibilities'', Group Show (Gallery Thirty Three, Wanaka)

It's a season for ceramic art, with four ceramicists joining forces at Wanaka's Gallery Thirty Three for ''Pots & Possibilities''. Linked only by the medium, the work of each artist is drastically different, and that diversity in technique and subject creates a fascinating contrast.

Mandy Gargiulo's porcelain pieces draw inspiration from the natural world, particularly marine life, and the painstaking detail and skilful execution of her bowls and vases is transfixing. Large Wave Bowl and Star Fish look like living creatures that have been plucked from the depths of the sea.

Gargiulo individually shapes and places petal-like spikes and fronds to cover the surface of the vessels, and the result is unbelievable texture and deceptive delicacy.

In a swing to the modernist side, Cheryl Lucas celebrates both suffrage and Cubism with her Judith and Jacinda, angular Raku clay vases representing the left and right in New Zealand politics, named after two very prominent politicians.

Using blocks of colour to symbolise personality traits and political values, Lucas differentiates between the vases but does not elevate one over the other.

Finally, a delightful twirl into whimsy and tongue-in-cheek humour with Madeleine Child and Philip Jarvis, whose work is unabashedly playful and executed beautifully. Childs Bird on Brick Perch series is a popular favourite, and it's impossible not to be instantly pulled towards Jarvis' display of Toothpaste.

 

Ice Bowl #89 (Hyacinth Blue), by Ann Robinson
Ice Bowl #89 (Hyacinth Blue), by Ann Robinson
''Spring Catalogue'', Group Show (Milford Galleries, Queenstown)

In Queenstown, as the first signs of summer appear, there is still time to see the ''Spring Catalogue'' at Milford Galleries. The exhibition brings together works by multiple prominent artists from around the country, working in a variety of media.

In the painting selection, Dick Frizzell's Misty Morning on the Forgotten Highway is beautifully atmospheric, the colour palette dominated by shades of purple and grey, and the sky extending so far down the canvas that the thick chill of mist seems to approach to also envelop the viewer.

Chris Heaphy's The Floating World is one of the strongest works in the collection, and draws you in almost mesmerically. The composition is reminiscent of a giant eye, comprised of repeating circular patterns of imagery that reference nature, culture, and the artists own history.

The symbols within the overall ''world'' create radiating bands of pattern, and the whole effect is one of movement, as if the circles are turning and the work is looking back at the viewer in open dialogue.

Ceramics and cast glass are the stars of this show, with Katherine Smyth's handbuilt earthenware Fig gorgeously shaped and painted to resemble a ripening fruit, and Ann Robinson's Ice Bowl #89 (Hyacinth Blue) nothing less than a masterpiece of glass art.

The bowl morphs under the light to completely alter in colour, and the incredible precision of the surface angles defies the fact that they were created by human hands.

-By Laura Elliott

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