Invited artists show a fine realism


'Moa egg and tui II' by Jane Crisp.
'Moa egg and tui II' by Jane Crisp.
'Moa egg and tui II' by Jane Crisp.
'Moa egg and tui II' by Jane Crisp.
James Dignan looks at the latest exhibitons from The Artist's Room, Käryn Taylor, the Old Dunedin North Post Office, and Ceidric Heward.


A wealth of talent is on display in the work of more than a dozen artists at the "Norfolk House Realist Invitational" exhibition at the Artist's Room.

Pieces by several artists familiar to regular gallery visitors are present, as are works by a handful of overseas and local artists who are less well known to Dunedin viewers.

In an innovation for the gallery, the exhibition's opening night was held at a private residence in St Clair (hence the title), and was relocated to the gallery.

The work is of consistently high standard with very fine still lifes, portraits and landscapes in a variety of different media, ranging from the exceptional tender graphite nudes of Geoff Williams through Deidre Copeland's extreme close-up oil portraits to the consistently fine prints of Steev Peyroux and Olav Nielsen.

The latter artist's contributions included some surprises to those who know his previous work, with several pencil drawings and a multi-hued still life mezzotint of flowers set against a mountain backdrop.

Other notable works include a series of whimsical studies of tui and moa eggs by Jane Crisp, Steve Harris' still lifes, and two overwhelming close-ups of flax and kowhai flowers by Allan Batt.

Sam Foley's streetscapes also continue to impress, as do the works of John Toomer.

- The Fringe Festival provides a great opportunity for people interested in the arts to view several exhibitions within a short space of time. Unfortunately, many of these exhibitions are of short duration, and so the chance has to be grabbed when it occurs.

This year's festival was no exception, with a number of displays cropping up in unusual places around town.

One such display was an installation by Käryn Taylor, briefly displayed in the crypt of St. Paul's Cathedral in the Octagon.

"Practical Metaphysics" consisted of a series of seven booths, each bathed in a ghostly light, the spectrum of colours represented from red to violet. Viewers were invited to enter the booths, inside each of which was playing an ambient drone, deep at the red end and high at the violet end.

The intention with this series of "resonance chambers'' was to create combinations of light and sound tuned to the seven body chakras - the energy points used in both eastern meditative practices and alternative healing.

Indeed, there was a meditative feeling imbued by the sense of being bathed in colour and sound, with the whole installation producing a profound sense of peace.

It is, however, perhaps unfortunate that the necessities of the materials used in the construction were such that a bleed of sound from other chambers reduced the effect.

- Another exhibition connected to the Fringe Festival is a group exhibition exploring "Twilight language'', the area between thoughts and words, between spaces, and between wishes and actions.

Each of the artists involved interpreted this idea of these metaphorical and metaphysical transition zones in his or her own way, and the result is a disparate collection of loosely-themed works in both visual media and sound.

The origin of the phrase "twilight language'' is Buddhist, and it is not surprising that several of the artists involved have used Buddhism in general and specifically Tibet as a kicking-off point for their art.

Among these are April Dolkar, who provides a large number of works, notably a large series of haunting toned photographs, and Tibetan artist Ngodup, whose most appealing pieces are a series of mandala-like "auspicious signs''.

Other works of particular note in this exhibition include a haunting and gently nostalgic installation by Sandra Bell, a meditative ambient video piece by Kim Pieters, and several series of startling, yet calm colour separation photographs by Rosmarie Muller.

- Photographs are also the medium of choice for Ceidric Heward, a BBC-trained documentary maker, whose exhibition "Travel art" is showing at the Dunedin Public Library.

These works offer an intriguing opportunity to glimpse our local surrounds as viewed from the outside - Heward's work is that of an overseas photographer and reporter working on a series of travel books intended for overseas readers, and this series of pictures and accompanying text is designed with such an audience in mind.

The pictures are simple, yet readily capture much of the essence of the Otago Peninsula.

Icons are depicted in a simple, yet clean fashion, without gimmick and without fuss. Heward's eye for composition is clear, especially in works like the image of Taiaroa Head lighthouse.

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