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May 19, 2008 | by  | in Visual Arts |
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‘Batteries Not Included’ Exhibition

Batteries Not Included
Mary Newton Gallery
30 April – 24 May

Batteries Not Included is an interesting mixture of mixed media, graphite and ink on vintage paper, through to photographic prints at a show titled Private Park featuring Emily Bullock, Mary Macpherson, Jim Wheeler, Joanna Langford, Andy Irving and Andrea du Chatenier.

One’s eye is immediately drawn to a larger than life flying purple jumpsuit-ed ape, with one white platform shoe, and sharp claws on the other three appendages, suspended from the ceiling as though flying through the air. The ape has been feminised, from the male parody of it through such artists as American Jeff Koons or Ronnie van Hout. Andrea du Chatenier created this work and the interestingly titled of ‘Bluemister Mother’ and ‘Crystalgreen’. The materials used are a mixture of resin, fur, roller skates, fabric and globe. It is difficult to figure out where these could hang in a domestic environment.

During a visit to the gallery, the discussion in the room drifted to a weasel that had busted into the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary, apparently, it flew over the fence on a lump of wood! This discussion was on reflection upon the art works at the entrance to the gallery by Emily Valentine Bullock, who won a merit award in 3D at the Norsewear Art Awards in 2007 with these types of works.

With a catchy series title of Dog Flu these small works made from various bird feathers ranging from pigeon through to swamp hen and lorikeet and used with mixed media to present us with morphed birds and dogs. There is a lot of play within this series and the humour of the artist comes through.

Sometimes it’s not what you see in a gallery that matters, but rather what you can hear. This is apparent in the work by Andy Irving. In his work, ‘Audio Marquette for a House 2008’. As one draws near to this work, made from wood, copper laminate, audio player and audio tape one can hear the noise of domesticity, such as a vacuum cleaner. It is unsure whether the batteries to this are included or not, ask at the desk!

Mary Macpherson has a range of photographs of ferns and gorse, grasses and blackberry and bracken and dandelions. These works are a little difficult to understand in that they appear to offer very little interaction between the viewer and the image. There needs to be one here, something to draw the viewer in and engage with it rather than walk on by.

Joanna Langford takes a very architectural slant with the use of plastic, LED lights, skewers, computer keys and paint. These three 3D works look and appear secure in a gallery context, but probably would be rather fragile elsewhere.

By contrast Jim Wheeler’s works placed opposite Mary Macpherson’s, are quite nice sculptures made from bronze in the shape of leaves. Unfortunately the white wall was rather smudged, which was a little distracting.

What is enjoyable about this show is the level of playfulness in some the works. There is wonderful humour portrayed in an industry that can at times can see itself as rather serious or daunting (at least to the uninitiated). We all like a good laugh at times and this exhibition provides. The exhibition runs until 24 May.

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