The Salient Arts Editors weigh in on some local art world queens.
Lucy| Kate Newby
I have an INCREDIBLE FEELING for Kate Newby and I know I am not the only one. Its things like walking, talking, sunlight, rain, and rocks that inspire her work. Puddles and plastic bags, incidental marks, and accidental assemblages found on streets and footpaths.
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The ephemeral nature of Newby’s work is seen through the semi-permanence of her objects—from people skimming her ceramic stones into various bodies of water, to large concrete rocks embedded with crystals—hidden in parks or by the side of the footpath.
Her work can be missed if you are not looking closely enough. Collections of handcrafted and found objects enhance her connection to the environment and her experience within it. Laura, Lucy, Mark and Felix (2014) was a site responsive work on Oriental Bay in Wellington, where an unstable installation of hanging coloured ceramics appears and disappears. This created an awareness of the impermanent nature of the surroundings and the everyday.
Newby’s work provides an openness to observe, to take notice, and to care about what you are experiencing around you. She is someone that I will not be getting over anytime soon.
Ruby | Heather Galbraith
When I think of Heather I think of a photo that came up on her Facebook a few years ago. A 21 year old Heather stands in front of an easel, face turned to look at the camera, behind her the debris of an art school studio. It is the early 90s and she is the epitome of grunge in a plaid skirt and thigh high socks, her brush poised over a Seraphine Pick-esque still life including daggers, pearls, and a vintage smock dress. She is goddamn adorable.
In the years to come this lil’ babe is going to be off curating, directing galleries, judging art prizes, writing about art, speaking about art, taking New Zealand to the Venice Biennale…. Eventually coming full circle, to become the head of Whiti o Rehua School of Art at Massey University, and art-mum to a whole new hoard of fresh faced and plaid wearing art students.
And this is where I first met Heather, in a paper she wrote about artists who interrogate feelings and relationships, and of course it was love at first word—changing my own (barely formed) practice for ever. When I think of Heather, I think of ALL the strong, beautiful, intelligent, caring, creative, driven, women who graduate from art school, and then go on to kill it in all the ways possible.
Robbie | Eve Armstrong
Eve Armstrong is a full badass. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
In 2010 Eve participated in an exhibition in the south of the Netherlands called The Woods that See and Hear, curated by Sarah Farrar. The exhibition was held to address notions of sustainability, social responsibility, pollution, and regeneration from a post-environmentalist approach. For this, Eve took the remains of the farm buildings being demolished and left them in one clean pile in the centre of a lush green break in the landscape. A green isle between trees. Full. Badass.
Eve’s work across her career has considered social, political, and cultural issues in the most careful but poignant ways. Namely her Trading Table, which was shown recently at the Auckland Art Fair. A simple formula that causes people to consider the neoliberal capitalist system we function within daily.
Eve is a real-life functioning artist (with dealers and stuff!), a Mum, Wellington City Council Arts Advisor, and of course, a full badass.
Louise | Ann Shelton
It has been almost twenty years since Ann Shelton first published Redeye: a rampant, reckless, and voyeuristic collection of photographs documenting her friends and artists hectic social scene—punk, queer, outlandish, and firmly planted on K Road. Since then, Shelton has become one of New Zealand’s leading photographic artists.
Turning her lens to landscapes and interiors, her work often deals with difficult histories (Hitler’s oaks, wastelands, execution sites) and investigates the social, political, and historical contexts that inform readings of the landscape. With a survey exhibition of her work opening at The Auckland Art Gallery in November this year and a documentary in in the works, 2016 is a great time to be Ann Shelton.