Exhibition six years in making

Gisborne artists Simon Lardelli (left) and Drew Hill present the raw material of pallets they use...
Gisborne artists Simon Lardelli (left) and Drew Hill present the raw material of pallets they use to create the wooden and plexiglass sculptures seen on the walls of Toi o Tahuna Gallery. Photo by James Beech.
Pallets are the palette for two contemporary artists from Gisborne now making their Queenstown debut in Toi o Tahuna Gallery.

Artists Simon Lardelli and Drew Hill explore positive and negative spaces, the formation of shadows from light, contrast the natural with the artificial and turn the industrial into art when they create unique sculptures from found objects, particularly discarded wooden pallets.

The figures they cut using the space between the slats are bestowed with meaning, often representing ancestors from the spiritual world.

Lardelli and Hill spent their first visit to the Wakatipu last week as artists in residence, using their skills, instincts, power tools, stains and paint to create the three-dimensional works for display.

Their showcase is called ''The Remarkables''.

The duo have exhibited in their home town and around New Zealand and their works have been bought by collectors from both sides of the Tasman, Japan, Canada and Turkey.

Lardelli studied visual arts at Waiariki Polytechnic, Rotorua, in 1989-92 and became involved in several design and carving projects on the East Coast of the North Island.

He worked on restoring Maori meeting houses over the past decade, assisting master carver Lyonel Grant on Ihenga/Tangatarua in 1993-96.

He helped carve a sculpture for Aotearoa Fisheries Ltd to gift to the Japanese fishing company Nissui in 2012.

Hill graduated from studying fine arts in 1999 and has directed award-wining social, economic and environmental themed documentaries which have been selected for international film festivals.

A polytechnic tutor and photographer favouring black and white film, Hill is pursing his interest in multimedia art by extending the carved pallet concept into transparent acrylic glass, ''the new wood'', as also seen in the Toi o Tahuna show.

Lardelli and Hill said they wanted to thank owner Mark Moran for providing the gallery space.

Mr Moran and the artists crossed paths several times at exhibitions in the North Island and had been discussing the idea of exhibiting in Queenstown over six years.

''The way they experiment with positive and negative space and the resulting shadow effect using the gallery lighting is quite a unique form they've come up with and watching them at work has been really interesting to me,'' Mr Moran said.

• ''The Remarkables'' is on display upstairs in the gallery on Rees St until April 15.

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