Regan Gentry brings his pumice platoon to 30 Upstairs [an art project space]. The sculptor presents his new show Floating as a self-portrait of sorts. Representative of the lull experienced after a chaotic career Gentry found himself, as many artists do, waiting for the next thing to happen. This show delves deliberately into societies preconditioned ideas about a single material and its functionality to demonstrate his floating state. Well known for his public pieces Gentry’s sculptures are directed and determined by his location and the folk-tale fabric of that area. Gentry uses what already exists as the starting point for his projects. He chooses to continue the conversations of the community giving these forgotten fables a modern muse. 30 Upstairs brings the outside in with Gentrys latest leap.
After mans misunderstanding with land, Gentry took full advantage of the pumice ‘bombs’ created after Wanganui’s failed Bridge to Nowhere farming settlement. A lack of knowledge about ecosystems and science led to the area being deemed unsuitable for farming in 1917. As the land dissolved around the collapsing stripped scene, it was only the chimneys that remained as a feature of failure. Cold Comfort, a chimney made from pumice collected at the mouth of the Wanganui river is displayed as a print in this show.
‘That was a project based on the Bridge to Nowhere and how we (mankind) tried to take over the environment and make it ours and the environment kind of spat us out. That sense of failing. That failure, I thought was pretty interesting. It doesn’t frequently happen that we get beaten.’ RG
Gentry continues to give form to the stories and situations which take his interest with another sculpture Land Shank. In relation to his work about Mangapurua valley, Gentry explores the remains of that human existence over the barren land. The crumbling chimneys protrude like the skeleton of a decomposing body, the only sign that man had been there; it was this simile that led Gentry to create the pumice ‘bone’ piece.
Bombs, an installation of 9 sculpted pumice pieces hang suspended as you first enter Regan Gentry’s space at 30 Upstairs. The intimately installed works are a reflection of Gentry’s time at Te Papa where he worked on the displays. Delicately dangling the design of his show transforms the rooms. Leaning, hanging, fixed and floating Gentry has an unquestionable eye for detail capturing both the function of the mimicked model with humour and wit. Floating is on until August 18.
Words by Jade Townsend