Monday, February 23, 2009

You have come a long way, Sculpture

'... You have come a long way, Sculpture, from those fraught days twenty years back when Ad Reinhardt sadly defined you, Sculpture, as something that a museum-goer trips over when stepping backwards from viewing a painting. And experiences like Waiheke, experiences like Brick Bay, experiences like Bannockburn - and now here - are starting to kick a great big hole in that generic message! 

Find your space, Sculpture. Hold it and share life with us...' *

*Don Binney - opening address, Sculpture in Central Otago, Rippon Vineyard, Wanaka - 6 February 2009 

Waitangi weekend saw the opening of Sculpture in Central Otago, a much-anticipated annual sculpture event in an old, but newly-established venue - beautiful, organically-scrupulous Rippon Vineyard. Visitors to this outdoor exhibition (curated by The Arthouse, Christchurch and the Wanaka Arts Charitable Trust) get to wander amongst the vines, drawn by eye, instinct or a map from one sculptural surprise to the next. Works by seventeen leading NZ artists are on show: Gretchen Albrecht, Graham Bennett, Julie Butler, Jonathan Campbell, Bing Dawe, Regan Gentry, Robert Hague, Mark Hill, Cheryl Lucas, Phil Newbury, Peter Nicholls, Phil Price, Rebecca Rose, Dan Rutherford, Llew Summers and Leon van den Eijkel. 

As Don Binney said in his opening speech, 'I think it is not at all unusual that looking over the scope of art pieces located around this vineyard, we see statements about geology (Dan Rutherford), we see statements about distance and measuring - defining place (Graham Bennett) - we see some pretty lacerating and necessary statements about ecology (Cheryl Lucas). Where did the water go? ... There is another wonderful statement about idiom transition: the magic of stepping from fifty years worth of painting (Gretchen Albrecht) into a highly satisfying and self-defining sculpture. Yes, that transition is there for the taking. The peril of tiny birds - which is a day-to-day talking point, and will be much longer - is in the safe, well-crafted statements that you will find lower down the hill (Bing Dawe) ... The ettricks (sic) of design or accident or incident on solid structure as we all live in times of conflict and stress and ambiguity or, indeed, simply go through the business of growing older are also here, and described with elegance and articulateness - and, the most important self-defining Antipodean practice of just putting up your feet and lounging is writ large, as well it should be! It is a good day... get your feet off the ground! (Regan Gentry)... And there is structure. There is abundant, competent, critically-articulated structure - and there is much colour. There is an angel's wing (Llew Summers). It is hewn out of stone - you can put the colour of an angel's wing there yourself, if you must: its strength is in the seeing. 

These works all exist in this marvelous space, and they seem to have found a space of their own... '

Regan Gentry with his larger-than-life lounger, Recliner Rex - 2005

There was a wonderful sense of generosity and community at this opening, much animated dialogue and open exchange of ideas. I especially enjoyed seeing two of the younger sculptors deep in conversation at the event's notice board, taking turns with the solitary marker pen to draw up possible solutions to a technical challenge one of them is currently facing with a work-in-progress. There was evidence everywhere of mutual respect, support, camaraderie and friendship.  

Here are a few pics I took whilst enjoying the sculpture, the people and the place.  

A Landscape With Too Many Holes - Riroriro (detail) Bing Dawe - 2009

Metallic velvet - detail from Peter Nicholl's Shards # 9 - 2008 

Whose arm is it anyway? 
L - R: Don Binney, Dan Rutherford, Graham Bennett, Julie Butler & Peter Nicholls with Dan's Warm Earth - 2008

You can visit these sculptures at Rippon till 3 May 2009.

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