On a recent semi-spontaneous trip to The New Dowse I was captivated, amused and bemused by three diverse exhibitions. I was first amused by Unwearable, a selection of jewellery by German-based New Zealand-born artist Lisa Walker. The collection of her works currently on display provides a coherent overview of her unique practice. Walker is renowned for her use of unconventional materials (haberdashery, glue, found materials) from which she creates pieces of jewellery that challenge both convention and practicality. This quirky collection is further enhanced through the use of wall labels which utilise the artist’s own words and personal reflections, giving the viewer a personal rather than academic insight into the motivations behind Walker’s creative process.
Captivated. The Messenger, a video installation, is created by American artist Bill Viola. This work immerses the viewer in an eerie underwater image, the rise and fall of a submerged figure accompanied by subtle use of sound and light, which creates a truly contemplative and hypnotic experience. Viola has been a leader in video art for the past 35 years, and is renowned for creating evocative media installations that explore the spiritual messages of universal experiences. The Messenger is part of The New Dowse’s International Arts Festival lineup, and is the first major work by Viola to be exhibited in New Zealand.
Finally I was bemused (and to be honest, after the gravity of Viola’s work, uplifted) by Bogle Bogle, a cute collection of brightly coloured oversized eggs, matchsticks and mice by Auckland artist Seung Yul Oh. Oh has built a reputation for creating playful works that merge aspects of East Asian pop art with ironic references to the Western modern tradition. Bogle Bogle is no exception, and I found this specially commissioned work to be simultaneously entertaining and reflective.
Tip: keep an eye out for museum and gallery late-night programmes—music, talks and tours, all of which are usually free. Great chance to impress a date with your artistic insight.
Lisa Walker: Unwearbable—12 December 2009 – 25 April 2010
Seung Yul Oh: Bogle Bogle—13 February – 30 May 2010
Bill Viola: The Messenger—20 February – 4 July 2010