A major new exhibition of modern art created by artists in the Waikato and the Chinese city Chengdu is opening this weekend .
Hosted by the Wallace Gallery in Morrinsville and titled Shift, the exhibition will feature the work of 11 artists affiliated with Wintec’s School of Media Arts and seven from the Blue Roof Art Museum in Chengdu.
Curated by Wallace Gallery’s Eliza Webster and Ding Fenqi from Blue Roof, it will open at 11am on Saturday with a musical concert that will feature a world premiere of one of the pieces performed by Jeremy Mayall, Kent MacPherson and Megan Rogerson-Berry.
Webster said the exhibition had been in the works for two years and would bear the fruits of a decade-long relationship between Wintec and Blue Roof. It also complemented an ongoing exhibition at Waikato Museum titled Indelible, that featured works from artists associated with the Xi’an Art Museum in Xi’an, mainland China, which had also established a close operational relationship with Wintec.
Mayall and Macpherson are two of the Waikato artists taking part, along with Tim Croucher, Gareth Williams, Mark Purdom, Xavier Meade, Geoffrey Clarke, Paul Nelson, Stef Young, Tony Nicholls, Dan Inglis, and Tracey Stockley-Smith.
The Chinese artists taking part are Tong Wenmin, Zhou Bin, Wang Yangxin, He Liping, Pu Ynun, Qiu Wenqing and Zhang Jin.
Shift deals with themes of place and space and the way these concepts can be altered with a simple change in direction, position or tendency. The artists were each in their own way exploring these ideas with works that engaged the senses by utilising sight, sound and movement.
Macpherson, Purdom and Nelson had collaborated on a work called Whakaari, which paid homage to the “sheer majesty” of White Island.
It was, said Webster, “a celebration of the physicality and brutality of the place by looking at the tiniest of parts”.
“It is these little things that make us think of home, to share them outside of a community that knows them well leaves the concept open to re-contextualisation – or missing the point altogether.”
Another thought provoking work in the exhibition was Mayall and Inglis’ audio-visual work Common Divisor, which depicted people alone but with the sounds of their community all around them. They were alone in an emotional sense, but potentially not a physical one, Webster said.
This could have particular resonance for foreigners joining a community far from home.
“The physical time and place you are in at any one time does not change your sense of home, or of local community. Our cultural knowledge brings with it belonging. We hope that our chinese friends in this exhibition are home enough here to show us their idea of it.”
The Chinese works for Shift had been taken from Shifting Permanence, an exhibition held in Chengdu earlier this year.
Shift can be seen at Wallace Gallery until November 25, while Indelibleruns until December 9.
Story by Stuff – Mike Mather