We are all familiar with those stories of collectors who house pivotal pieces in private. Never to be  seen again. It is with this in mind that 30 Upstairs would like to begin to share Mal Brow’s collection from recent acquisitions to old favourites, boozy buys and auction highs. This week we begin with Pool by Adrienne Millwood which was part of a group show Mea Culpa at {Suite} Gallery, Wellington.

Adrienne Millwood is currently in her postgraduate honours year at Ilam, Christchurch. Her piece Pool was one of two that featured in a group show with five other graduates during late July and early August of this year.

Pool carries a heavy weight of nostalgia and storytelling as the viewer struggles to complete the obscured imaged. The thick white border offers a controlled space for the painted forms to interact with the transferred photographs beneath. The deliberate white frame reminds us of the model we use to view a picture, framed on a wall, in an album or, as Millwood herself references, the window of an old slide.

‘I was already maintaining the borders that printed around the photocopies of images so I think this was a natural progression in my enjoyment of making the process of making more evident. In the majority of works, including this one I use old family photographs, although Pool also has an image from a discarded photo album of someone’s school trip to Fiji in the 70’s. As I spent my early childhood in Vanuatu it was a nicely synchronistic moment when I was given it and then combined this with my own image from a similar time and place.’ AM

The photographs Millwood uses are a combination of her personal collection and found images too. It is often in this search for scenic snapshots that Millwood will come across empty albums encouraging her to imagine the memories that may have been within. Her work raises questions around the function of photography in relation to retaining memories, building them and changing them. This is only the starting point, the images then become the canvas as Millwood paints on top of the transferred trip.

‘One of the aspects I’m exploring and subsequently exploiting is the tension that’s generated through the combination of these transferred photographic images with paint. Basically working with the differences in medium, both their physical and conceptual differences. They do different things, have different values attached to them, are perceived differently so I like thinking about what happens when they’re combined on the same surface… The shapes and colours are drawn from explorations into Modernist forms in both fine art and design, palettes that have their influence in fifties colour schemes, Hanna Barbera cartoons, favourite childhood books like Mr Men and the Babapapa series. Basically this sense of ‘pastness’ comes to the fore. Everything gets thrown in the collective pot of subconscious and manifests through the process of making. AM 

Pool is currently happily sitting between Rohan Wealleans and Priya Patel pieces at 30 Upstairs, if you would like a closer look please come by. Adrienne Millwood has an upcoming show in Christchurch at the start of October with two graduates of Ilam, Bridgette Allen and Alissa Gilbert. The next year will see Millwood set up a home studio where she looks forward to creating new work.


Words by Jade Townsend

Oil and photo-releases on canvas
600mm x 600mm

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