New artist in residence, Connah Podmore

This month, we warmly welcome artist Connah Podmore in the residency studio at 30upstairs.

Connah works in a multi-disciplinary way, using photography, drawing and writing to present small, intimate details of her surroundings. A few hairs left in a sink, cracks and textures of a wall can prompt Connah to produce works in series with minimal, poetic and often abstract sensitivities.

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Seafoam, lazer print on fabriano, 2015

 

Through a process of re-writing and re-photographing, where each step inspires the next, Connah weaves her personal memories and perceptions with observations of the immediate space around her. As artist in residence here, she plans to apply this process to the studio, responding to the textures, smells, sounds and experiences she encounters at 30upstairs.

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#1 (cutout), lazer print on fabriano, 2015

 

Connah will be in the studio until late June when she will present the outcome of her residency in an exhibition here. We look forward to working with her and seeing her work unfold.

 

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Michael II, Giclee Print on watercolour paper, 2015

Connah has a Master of Fine Arts from Massey University College of Creative Arts and a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Art History from the University of Otago.

 

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Introducing Hana Miller and Jacob Perkins

We would like to welcome our first artists in residence for 2016: audiovisual artists Hana Miller and Jacob Perkins of Ready Steady Studio (RDYSTDY). They are the founders of this creative studio based in Wellington which produces video art, live projection, video installation, and live performance based visual production.

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Hana & Jacob with their two daughters, Willa and Selene.

Over their residency Hana & Jacob will create a series of animated videos in collaboration with Wellington based Lisa Walker, a contemporary jeweller whose work questions conventional concepts about jewellery’s beauty and wearability. The video content will be filmed and animated at the gallery and exhibited at 30upstairs in June.

Using video and sound techniques to approach and interpret a selection of Lisa’s pieces, the project explores the gaps between seeing an image of an object and the physical experiences of wearing, touching or owning it.

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Their collaboration involves an ongoing exchange, with Lisa’s pieces as the starting point for each video. From these, Hana & Jacob create video treatments that return to Lisa, who then creates new pieces that specifically function as props for the final cuts.

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Internationally, Hana and Jacob have worked as collaborating artists on larger than life animatronic puppets for Disney, Cirque and Wynn Casinos with kinetic theatre company Michael Curry Design, created animations for Vice Magazine’s online channel VBS.TV and Courtney Taylor of the Dandy Warhols. The duo have also toured the world as Dear Frontier, a folk-punk band.

New Zealand works include creating music videos for a wide range of artists, from Hollie Smith to French for Rabbits, on visual projection and performance at SPLORE festival, BATS and Soundstage, as well as the production of web based video campaigns for fashion designer Penny Sage, Positively Wellington Tourism and the Wellington Regional Council.

For more information and to see their past work visit their website: http://www.rdystdy.com/

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Some problematic answers

The only things I knew about what was happening in the room were a) an argument about if the girl was really typing the answers people gave or not, and b) that someone I knew replied ‘bomb’ after being asked what word they associated with ‘terrorist.’  I thought about that a fair bit.  Then of course ‘bomb’ became my answer as well.  But I’ll come back to that later.

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Firstly I would like to mention I’m that person who laughs when confronted with serious people.  I try and mitigate this as I don’t want to be pulled up at customs for odd behaviour, but I do find it difficult.  Therefore I was chuckling a little when I first went into Asylum, by Francesca Emms and Amelia Taverner.  Amelia greeted me, asked me to sit, and proceeded ask me some questions.  It was humid, she was wearing a suit, and while my hair was reacting to the weather, hers was sleek and unaffected.  I giggled some more and tried to draw a smile or glint.  She did not flinch.  And so we began.  Or she began and I followed.  It was mechanical and efficient, and it began to dawn on me that I while I might be answering truthfully (to questions like ‘Where do terrorists come from?’), that I didn’t really understand the implications of my answers, if any.  I contemplated lying and giving ridiculous answers, but wondered if this might be disrespectful (to the gallery/Amelia/humanity/myself).

The aspect I loved about Asylum was that after we finished I was left with my own answers, as problematic as I felt some of them were.  Some of my answers were media influenced, others were given as I thought about Lebanon, where my father’s family emigrated from.  Some, such as ‘How many sexual partners have you had?’ were given with a mixture of apprehension and humour.  It was all out there with my date of birth, name, and my associating bomb with terrorist.  Do I believe that really?  No.  But was it the first thing that came to my mind. Yes.

The most striking thing I was left with was the certainty that I have no understanding of what it is like to feel unsafe. Where the only option is to leave home and subject one’s self to the elements, to possible imprisonment, violence, and unknown governments, and a number of other awful alternatives.

My application to the state of Asylum is ‘pending.’  When asked if I believed I was a terrorist I said ‘I don’t believe so.’  I walked away with an A6 sized card with some information on it.  It says that per capita Lebanon is the largest host of asylum seekers, while New Zealand ranks 90th.  We drop to 116th if our wealth is taken into account.  I am left with an uneasy feeling that no action is an action in itself. I am also grateful that I was asked questions so foreign to me that my problematic answers could reveal themselves.

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Asylum was part of The Performance Series 2015 that ran at 30upstairs from the 20th – 28th of November 2015. An updated version of the project will be at The Performance Arcade 2016 on Wellington Waterfront 2 – 6 March. View more about the Arcade here:

http://www.theperformancearcade.com/

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Intimate encounters at 30upstairs

Viewing the three new shows at 30upstairs for the first time on a Thursday morning in silence and solitude made for an intimate experience, one privileged to me as I had missed the opening and happened to be there on a rainy and wet day that was keeping everyone else away. While I don’t recommend missing openings I do recommend taking some time to sit with the three shows with less of a crowd; Ruru by Denise Batchelor, Back Stitch (Flying Geese) by Caroline McQuarrie, and Familiaris by Angela Singer.

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Denise Batchelor, Ruru, 2011. HD video, duration 02:59

Ruru is a video work projected onto the wall at large scale. For me it was a one-on-one experience. To sit and be confronted with the scale of undulating feathers and dilating pupils in Batchelor’s work made me feel privileged to be able to observe such a beautiful creature while simultaneously being confronted with my lack of knowledge about things with feathers. I do not understand the bird’s movements or pupil adjustments, or the reason those soft feathers lift and relax as it quizzically rotates its head in that unsettling way. It was like meeting the ‘other’ and being confronted with gaps in my own knowledge, and even my sense of self.

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Caroline McQuarrie, Back Stitch (Flyring Geese), 2012. Stop motion video projected on quilt, 150×150 cm, duration 09:20

McQuarrie’s work offers a different sort of intimacy. Back Stitch (Flying Geese) is a layered and personal narrative, one that quickly reminded me of the hum of a sewing machine with my mother bend forwards with her hands constantly working fabric and thread. Drawing her own mother into the video work by projecting on to her hand-made quilt, McQuarrie patterns thread and colour over imagery of land and trees resulting in a fascinating amalgamation of home and nature, memory and object. This work offers many narratives, and is one worth spending time sitting with.

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Angela Singer, Bird Shot, 2013. Wool, silk, cotton, 175 x 170 mm

And then over to Familiaris, which I initially found somewhat overwhelming despite how it seems to enhance the beautiful natural light in the gallery more so than normal. As I adjusted to the presence of other creatures hanging out in the space, it became more comfortable. There is an intensity to Singer’s objects, evident in the hours that have been invested in fixing tiny things to dead things, and stitching colourful lines (again I am reminded of my Mother) to shape colourful horrors of animals in the throes of killing and dying.

So a colourful and thought-provoking trio of shows is currently up for viewing at 30upstairs. Make the most of the longer days to spend a little time with beautiful objects and video works that will question the familiar and challenge sensibilities.

Laila O’Brien

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We welcome Yukari Kaihori, our new artist in residence.

Yukari has just joined us for a 3 months residency at 30upstairs which will end with an exhibition in December. She’s been here a few days now and we wanted to introduce her to you.

In her proposal for the residency, Yukari wrote about her inspiration:

My baby-chair was always facing the dining table and across the table was the classic oil painting on the wall. I didn’t see the painting after we moved to different cities but I can still remember the yellow kowhai tree painting. This memory empowers me somehow although it was probably not the intention of the artist to create that response. The yellow tree gleams like a torch in my memory.

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Somewhere between the Spring and Winter III, 2015. Oil on paper.

 

Can you tell us about your practice and your process?

I wasn’t always conscious of being a painter because it’s a language that came naturally to me. When I was in my last residency in Vermont I suddenly noticed that only a handful of people around me were painting and I started questioning why I do. I remembered childhood memories, positive and emotional memories that seemed to be paired with images in my mind. In past work I’ve used photographs I had taken previously to inspire my paintings as a way to recreate the experiences associated with the photos.

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This Land is All We Know, 2014. Oil and thread work on canvas

What do you aim to achieve through your residency at 30upstairs? 

I would like to use the residency to expand on the ideas behind my process and explore further my fascination in how images are read in different ways.  Everyone sees their own interpretations in any visual material but I’d like to work on making certain themes more visible in my work to draw associations I’m interested in.

To start with I’m experimenting by painting on different surfaces, like this vintage wallpaper which I haven’t used before. I’m not sure where this exploration will take me but wallpaper is something that reconnects me to childhood memories because of its domestic association; and when I was applying for the residency I was also intrigued by the 30upstairs rooms which seem very residential.

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Both natural and man-made landscapes are prevalent in your work. What are they inspired from?

I recently shifted from using my own photographs as inspirations to asking my family to send me photos of my own childhood. When they arrived, they looked completely different to what I remembered. Through my paintings I’m trying to reconstruct the narratives of those photographs by merging imagination and truth.

Born in Japan and growing up living in Asia, Brazil and the United States, Yukari has always been interested in the notion of home. She graduated with a BA in Studio Art from Oregon in 2004 before moving back to Japan where she worked and exhibited for 5 years before heading to New Zealand.

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Another Laith McGregor

When I first saw Laith McGregor’s Dawn on Ceningan Island, Indonesia, July 2014, it was reclining against one of the tables in the 30upstairs office.  The beautiful raw timber frame begs to be touched, and the work itself contains a labyrinth of inked blue text surrounding a larger than life bearded face.  With the work at eye level it was easy to pull out little quips and humorous strings of words, such as ‘GROUNDEDED,’ and ‘flared nostrils.’  As a work I wanted to look at it, and as a collection of thoughts, lists, and words, I wanted to spend time up close reading it.

Currently it’s hanging up on the wall, having been shifted, and now the floating head seems to be looming above me.  It’s harder to read, and now as I look upwards I feel that the scale of the face asks for some kind of reverence, yet it sort of reminds me of the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland mixed with God and Father Christmas.  A nearly forgotten memory of sitting in church as a child pops into my head, one of being told to be respectful towards bearded old men, and that keeps me from laughing too much despite the humorous running commentary of text that keeps the head afloat.

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The work was exhibited in June at The Young gallery after McGregor undertook a rare one-month artist in residence at the gallery itself with his wife and children.  With several of the rooms being converted to living and bedroom spaces, McGregor worked on his show PULAU as well as dedicating his time to a workshop involving 40 Wellington children and young adults.  Mal jumped at the chance to add Dawn on Ceningan Island, Indonesia to his collection, which is a prime example of the artist’s cleverness with biros, faces, and scale.

Well known for his drawing practice, McGregor graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Art from the Victoria College of Art in 2007, and has exhibited widely throughout Australia and further abroad as well as being the recipient of numerous awards and residencies.  His work is held in public and private collections all over the world.

Laila O’Brien

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30upstairs welcomes our new artist in residence Veronica Green

Fresh from Venice, Wellington born artist Veronica Green will be part of the 30upstairs family as the artist in residence for the next month prior to her exhibition in late August. Green completed her degree in Fine Arts (Hons) in 2006 at Massey University, Wellington, and gained an artist residency at Spiazzi in Venice, Italy where she has been developing her skills with collage, light and paint.  While on the residency Veronica will be hard at work completing a mammoth 3m x 1.9m canvas for her upcoming exhibition The light of my shadow.

Veronica Green The light of my shadow-web Veronica Green the light of my shadow nighttime-web
Her elaborate and detailed paintings transform in the presence or absence of light, and employ surrealism and abstraction. They also present an opportunity for viewers to explore their relationship with their own shadow, and to question ideas of of the double, animism and symbolism.

You’ll be able to see Veronica’s paintings when her exhibition opens on Friday 21st August, 5.30pm alongside Clarissa Lim and Jess Hubbard.

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Images:

Top: The light of my shadow (daytime/nighttime)

Bottom: Sowing Thoughts (day time)

http://www.veronicagreen.com/

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Laila O’Brien chats with Dani Terrizzi about her recent work in the LIGHT exhibition, Trembling in the Balance

Over several visits to 30upstairs recently I spent a fair amount of time watching Dani Terrizzi’s work Trembling in the balance in the small dark room at 30upstairs. It was a part of the LIGHT exhibition that finished last Saturday.  I say ‘watching’ as despite being stationary and on a 26 minute loop, I felt the work had some impossible capacity for independent activity.  Would I blink and then hear it proclaim that it won the staring contest?  Well, I didn’t hear anything that Dani hadn’t intended to be heard in it, just things my own mind imagined.  For me, it was a dialogue between sand and water, and I keep feeling my head tilt to the side in an attempt to understand.  I could stalk around the dark room, and break/enter the illusion with my body, but I couldn’t manipulate the sound.  It was a language I knew, grainy reminders of the everyday, a sister language to the one made by my shoes crunching on gravel, and the sound my skin makes when I rub my hands together.  And so I stared, and hovered, and wanted to be included and to understand what it was doing, and what Dani was thinking as she made it.  It was an exciting day for me then when Jhana and Mal asked me to get Dani in for a chat.  I felt very lucky to be on the receiving end of Dani’s generous revelations about herself and her work, and can’t wait to see what she makes next.

How would you describe Trembling in the balance in terms of content or subject matter?

I didn’t have an idea of what I wanted the work to be before I started making it.  Instead the work came out of the processes I used when I was filming, and subtle things that interested me, or parts of things.  I then started to edit things down, cropping, and layering, learning new video techniques and repeating them.  I built on my past video experience. So the work became about the process as well as the images I used. I think there’s power in little moments of discovery – in the ritual of capturing images and the act of reproducing them. This work reveals my engagement with movement of the hand, water, and environmental sound. I would describe it as a composition, a living form shifting through moods and phases of instability and transcendence.

What did you read/listen to/look at/research when making this work?

I was collecting a lot of sound and video recordings. I was also reading about transitory states and liminality. That’s where the title came from. An idea of finding the balance between fixed states, and identifying periods of unknowing which aren’t always felt as positive. I’m both interested in and hyper-aware of environmental sounds, to the point that I can barely listen to music through headphones. Sometimes when you hear a sound, it can ring in your head long after the initial encounter. During the making process I would hear certain sounds from the work everywhere, echoing repeatedly. The sounds from my external environment would find their way back into the work. In this way I developed a dialogue with sound through memory and association.

Dani Terrizzi screen grab

What were your biggest challenges creating this work?  How did you deal with them?

The hours and hours spent sitting at the computer were quite draining, but I did enjoy making it. It was a work that came together well, and once I started making it I knew what it would become.

What do you want this work to do?

I hope for it to be confronting and engaging. I like that some people seem unsure, and don’t know what it is, or what it’s meant to be. For me its a lot of different things and I want it to be that for other people as well.

Now that the exhibition is coming to a close, have your thoughts about your work changed in any way?

After the opening it was strange, we celebrated the work and then we leave it.  It was like a parting.  It’s nice to be back here talking about it, knowing that things have been happening to it in my absence. Previously it was exhibited in a shipping container for the Exposure exhibition, with a wooden floor which created a nice echo. Here is seems to be in a home, or a little room, and I like that as it didn’t seem to have a home before.

What’s next for you?  Where do you see your work going?

I want to continue experimenting with video, with more investigation into how to enhance the physicality of a projection.  I’ve been using similar processes over the last few years, capturing things and making them more than what they seem to be in that moment when you find them.  That is a strong theme in my work.

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A change in the air

It’s the middle of winter and over the last week the sky has been littered with clouds that span from a dull white to a deep murky purple. The frequency with which I can see my breath in the middle of the day and the odd hail shower illustrates how cold it is. What a surprise it was then to walk into the office of 30upstairs and feel the sky open up and the temperature increase several degrees until it left a pink glow on my face. A change in the air?

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Truthfully I was rather close to an incandescent trio by Jade Townsend from her series, ‘She wanted to be quoted anonymously as she didn’t want all of Beijing to know she waxes her upper lip’, which with their exquisite details and glittering additions make claim to be both opulent and exploitable. The pink woven cords connect them to the multi-plug, which is also shared with the printer, and combined with the heater running on the other side of the room there is a humming that alludes to industry and consumption.

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Stepping back for a breath my eye travels up to a sun centred in a rectangular blue sky. Sun by Marco Fusinato reveals what the clouds outside are obscuring. How many times as a child was I told to never look at the sun? It’s a beautiful work, detailed with thin white lines and faint bands pulsing out from the centre. I feel in some why challenged as to why it’s not a square, or why it wasn’t hung as a portrait, and decide that it’s the immensity of the sky surrounding the sun that seems to want to be unlimited by the white border and wooden frame that so abruptly cuts it off. It wants to be bigger, and as such it seems to keep shifting in scale and shape in my mind.

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Running left along the wall, encouraged by the direction of the magazines on the bookshelf, I arrive at two works by Gina Jones, Untitled (Dots and two lines red), and Untitled (Dots and two lines orange), which instantly remind me of driving through road works at dusk. They contain circles and slants, a rotation in composition, and a colour switch of red on orange then orange on red. They sit above John Campbell’s light work Shit Yeah, which at couch level throws red and blue light up onto the underside of the bookshelf. I can’t help but flick up and down between the works, noticing the light from the window playing with the small circles in Jones’ work. This whole wall has hooked me in, and as I circle back to Jade’s trio of works I finally notice Unified Field Theory. White in frame with shadows suggestive of a corner or something folded, Karyn Taylor has made a work that almost disappears into wall, but reveals itself as one becomes accustomed to the placement of objects and their shadows.

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Who would of thought I could be warmed up by the right hand wall of an office.

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Laila O’Brien

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30UPSTAIRS COLLECTION: André Hemer

We’ve recently added a new work by André Hemer in the office of 30upstairs. The title New Smart Object Plus #12, gives a clue to deciphering this work which at first is arresting and uncanny.

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André Hemer New Smart Object Plus #12 year: 2015 size: 818 x 614 mm media: acrylic, oil and pigment on canvas

It is definitely painterly; big bold brushstrokes cross the canvas in an abstract and expressionist style. The layers that overlap each other seem to have different textures making the work as an object quite tempting to touch. As you move closer, the thick paint impasto disappears and you realise how flat the work is. Hemer’s new series of work tricks you in a remarkable, new-age trompe-l’oeil – many hours spent not on mastering perspective with a brush, but on digitally layering the components of his works.

In New Represenation Part II, his recent show at Bartley and Co, Hemer demonstrated how he can disrupt traditional painting techniques by mixing it up with digital manipulation and printing; exploring the uncanny intersection of painting and digital print.

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