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July 30, 2007 | by  | in Visual Arts |
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Chirp – Brydee Rood

Toi Poneke Gallery, Wellington Arts Centre
61 Abel Smith Street
11 July – 5 August

On a dark and blustery cold July evening recently, I wandered down to the latest opening at Toi Poneke Gallery and noticed that the wine being served was a lot different. Instead of the usual troika consisting of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and pinot noir there was a steel pot of steaming mulled wine. I am not a pretentious wanker, but just as I was experiencing the warm, sumptuous, wood infused, cinnamon rich, herbal taste of the mulled wine I noticed that there was a Forest and Bird Society table set up in the gallery.

‘Brilliant!’ I thought. What a good idea, it’s not every week that a community group takes such an active part in a contemporary art exhibition. This prompted me to read some of the literature that Gecko members will no doubt be familiar with and they will be pleased to know that a young artist by the name of Brydee Rood is fast gaining a reputation for interactive environmentally conscious art.

Rood is an actively practicing artist for the past seven years and has exhibited in such far-flung places as Japan. This is impressive but she downplayed the significance of this by mentioning that she happened to be living there at the time. But I pointed out to her that it doesn’t matter where one lives when you are an artist. If you are serious about your art the location and any perceived commercial opportunities there are irrelevant. Rood has proved this with her passion for her subject matter as she has managed to get a strong message out there wherever she happens to be in an industry that’s near impossible to make a decent living from in this country.

With Chirp, Rood presents a developmental exhibition, which uses common everyday materials that makes us think about the steps we take and the impact we each have on the environment. Warmed up by a cup of mulled wine I sat down on one of two chairs near the entrance, which made a loud squeaking noise. Thinking that I was sitting on a new kind of whoopee cushion I looked down to discover that under the legs of both of the chairs there were rubber ducks having the life squeezed out of them.

Later on while I chatted to Rood I discovered that like any good expressionist she prefers the viewer to come up with their own interpretation when they view her art. Looking down at the squeaking chairs I thought to myself that when we sit down at night we will have throughout our day had some kind of impact on the environment.

I was then led along to the next set of works which were large boards of pine plywood with what they call Tactile Ground Surface Indicators (TGSI) tacked onto them. These are those little round circle things that are on the ground at the start of pedestrian crossings which stop you from slipping over. Taking Rood up to two months to create, these involved tracing the circles of each TGSI and attaching them to the boards in the shape of a native bird.

Unfortunately none of us are 100 per cent pure, clean and green and these works implicitly point out that even the most innocuous amongst us can wreck environmental destruction as we walk around during our everyday business.

But one should remember that it is not all about doom and gloom, one shouldn’t feel guilty while looking at the works of Brydee Rood. One should instead feel informed about our relationship with the environment and the effects we can have upon it. Maybe that is why there was a Forest and Bird Society table inviting us to go out and make a positive contribution for our bird species.

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