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COAST – group exhibition 4 June – 5 July 2024

Artists respond to the dynamic boundary between land and sea

Josh Bashford, Jacqui Colley, Maurice Lye, Euan Macleod, Marian Maguire, Vivienne Murchison, Jenna Packer, Chris Pole, Stefan Roberts

Coastlines delineate the human realm yet the line between land and sea is never fixed. Coastal regions – beaches, cliffs, estuaries – are ever-changing and often fragile. This is particularly true in Aotearoa, a relatively young archipelago thrust upwards through vast ocean, at the juncture of two tectonic plates. Although only 1600 kilometres in length, New Zealand has an incredible 15,000 kilometres of varied coastline. Through each tide and every storm this coastline shifts. Rivers disgorge silt, rocks and debris, sand banks move, cliffs face the onslaught of elements and occasionally buckle. Erosion reveals fossils, ancient life forms that were once abundant but are now extinct.

Before flight travel became the norm, all humans arrived here after a long voyage. Landing could be perilous. It is little wonder that stories about the coast abound in the historical record and contribute to mythologies. Most of this country’s major cities are sited near ports that were established during the colonial era. But before that, waka voyaged Aotearoa, linking hapū and iwi. The interactive edge between land and sea is rich with life – birds, molluscs, fish – and food gathering along the coast continues to form part of local diet and national identity.

The beach is a place for social interaction. Friends stroll, families meet and play, dogs fetch. Children grow up swimming at the same spots, clambouring over the same rocks, staring into the same rock pools their parents may well have explored when they were young. Many of us  share these memories yet one’s experience of the coast is as personal as one’s own thoughts. It is hard not to be affected by the coasts changing moods whether they be benign or brutal. The coast is a reflective zone. Perhaps it is because the eye can run out towards the immeasurably distant horizon, or the repeated lapping of waves lull us into letting go of time, or maybe the changeability of light, wind and weather reminds us that we are just a small part of something very much bigger.

The nine artists in this exhibition have each contributed in their own way, through diverse media, through the framework of their own meditations. This reminds me that the coast is not just of the world, outside us. The boundary between land and sea, a zone of interconnection between natural forces and life forms, also exists as a notion. Whether we stand on the shore and can stare out to the ocean or not makes no difference. The coast is an embedded part of our consciousness.

Marian Maguire (curator)


Life Giver 1, by Josh Bashford, 2023, woodcut on canvas, 1260 x 1410mm, $2500   Life Giver 2, by Josh Bashford, 2023, woodcut on canvas, 1260 x 1410mm, $2500
Josh Bashford lives in Little River and often explores his local environment. There he finds subject matter: birds, fish, rivers, valleys, lakes and shorelines. Banks Peninsula is a rich source of inspiration and his artworks are informed by his experience of fishing and spending hours just being present in the enivronment: “waiting, watching the changes of light and movement, miles away in thought.” Two large-scale woodcuts, printed directly onto raw canvas are included in this exhibition. In them, intricately carved creatures emerge as if woven through a fluid structure. Weather and tides are expressed by the patterning of curved, lines which seem to embrace land, sea and life. In these works, there is no separation between creatures and the environment in which they dwell. The interrelationship of all things is implied. Josh Bashford graduated with a BFA with honours from the University of Canterbury in 2012. Of mixed Palagi and Samoan heritage, his work is informed by both his Christian faith and his culture and connection to Samoa.


Where the land meets the sea #1, by Jacqui Colley, 2024, acrylic on 300gsm hahnemühle paper, 330 x 250mm, $900 Where the land meets the sea #2, by Jacqui Colley, 2024, acrylic on 300gsm hahnemühle paper, 330 x 250mm, $900 Where the land meets the sea #3, by Jacqui Colley, 2024, acrylic on 300gsm hahnemühle paper, 330 x 250mm, $900 Where the land meets the sea #4, by Jacqui Colley, 2024, acrylic on 300gsm hahnemühle paper, 330 x 250mm, $900 Where the land meets the sea #5, by Jacqui Colley, 2024, acrylic on 300gsm hahnemühle paper, 330 x 250mm, $900
Where the land meets the sea #6, by Jacqui Colley, 2024, acrylic on 300gsm hahnemühle paper, 330 x 250mm, $900 Where the land meets the sea #7, by Jacqui Colley, 2024, acrylic on 300gsm hahnemühle paper, 330 x 250mm, $900 Where the land meets the sea #8, by Jacqui Colley, 2024, acrylic on 300gsm hahnemühle paper, 330 x 250mm, $900 Where the land meets the sea #9, by Jacqui Colley, 2024, acrylic on 300gsm hahnemühle paper, 330 x 250mm, $900
Jacqui Colley “Where the land meets the sea – These paintings meditate on the dynamics of the geomorphic; the intertidal zone which is sometimes above and sometimes below sea level. It is where temporal variations and transitions occur in space and time. Movement flows; rhythms, patterns and interactions between one thing or process – each affecting another. On the earths surface, the spacial components, like markers or drum beats sit in arrangement, micro and macro, natural and made-made, a syncopation of land, water and air.”
During 2023 Jacqui exhibited To the Sea, a series of large expressive paintings, at PG gallery192. These smaller paperworks bring with them the immediacy of gesture that pervades her practice. Jacqui Colley is an award-winning Wellington-based  artist. Born in Zambia, raised in Cape Town, she moved to New Zealand in 1996. Her work is exhibited internationally and she is regularly involved with collaborations, residencies and special projects.


Tumble (2021), by Maurice Lye, type C print, 800 x 550mm, $1250 unframed  Lull (1987), by Maurice Lye, type C print, 800 x 550mm, $1250 unframed  Aggregate (2020), by Maurice Lye, type C print, 800 x 550mm, $1250 unframed
Maurice Lyeconfesses that he is an opportunistic photographer: “I’m a scavenger, forever on the lookout for situations that appeal to my vision, sense of humour and irony. How people affect their environment, the traces they leave and their responses to the creatures and plants we co-habit with, intrigues me and provides fertile ground for exploration.” Three Lye photographs are included in this exhibition. They were take on the West Coast, North Canterbury and Nelson. While Maurice has a quirky eye, and clicks when he sees it, he is by no means flippant. He is a practiced observer. Frequently the light is flat. Mid-tones dominate and the emotive drama that could be elicited by more Turneresqe light effects is subdued, yet somehow he elicits an engaged response from the viewer. Maurice Lye is Christchurch based and has a long career as a professional photographer. In 2023 he showed Face Value, a exhibition of large-scale, deceptively simple, spectacularly detailed photographs of man-made, eroded rocks.


15 Coastal Drawings, by Euan Macleod, 2023-24, pastel on paper, 300 x 420mm, $1600

There is a feeling, in Euan Macleod’s 15 drawings, that he holds a pastel and moves it as he watches life in front of him. And that, for him, drawing is a natural extension of looking. Through it he creates an immediate record of fleeting events. Hills, posts and walls are fixed but people, dogs, birds and clouds are on the move. Euan isn’t precious about mark-making. His hand scrawls the paper with freedom and confidence. Drawing has always been part of Euan’s practice and through it he often discovers fresh approaches to composition and narrative which he later exploits in his painting. Recently he has been on jaunts with his mother around Lyttelton and Sumner. They sit together and watch the world go by.
Euan Macleod is a New Zealand born, Sydney-based artist who has exhibited extensively on both sides of the Tasman. He has been awarded Artist in Residencies in numerous locations around the world and is best known for peopling his landscape with figures that seem to stride through the space, their edges appearing and disappearing, as if they are fused with their locations.


Odysseus and the Sirens, by Marian Maguire, 2024, acrylic and pen on handmade Khadi Indian cotton rag paper 640g, 730 x 920mm framed, $5500   Map of the Coast of New Ithaca, by Marian Maguire, 2006, etching, 700 x 540mm, framed, $2200

Marian Maguire “I made Odysseus and the Sirens specifically for this show. It tells the story, recounted by Homer, of the ancient Greek hero contriving to hear the Sirens’ song. These mythical creatures – half-women/half-bird – were fabled to have lured countless sailors to their deaths with their irresistible song. Unfortunate mariners would then have their bones pecked clean of flesh. Odysseus wished to experience the song yet evade the catastrophe. He had himself strapped to the mast while his crew were commanded to plugs their ears and row with vigour. Making this image made me think about the lure of land to sailors at sea too long, the oceans not being our natural habitat. The yearning to make landfall in dangerous conditions must many-a-time have caused shipwrecks and disaster. I have also included a 2006 etching. Odysseus has been pushed so far off course that he voyages far beyond Mediterranean waters. He follows the coastline of Te Waka a Māui and Te Waipounamu plus many smaller islands, as mapped by Captain James Cook in 1769.”

Ruataniwha Mohua Tūkōrehu (Collingwood Golden Bay Fog), by Vivienne Murchison, 2024 watercolour on paper, 1045 x 750mm, $3200 Whakamatau (Lake Coleridge), by Vivienne Murchison, 2024 watercolour on paper, 1045 x 750mm, $3200
Central to Vivienne Murchison’s practice is her synaesthetic experience of colour which she sees as energy and feels in the body. For her, each colour has its own vibration and is in constant motion. It is as changeable as light. Coastlines provides abundant inspiration for her. In these works she aims to share her very subjective experience of colour and light. Through the medium of watercolour she explores the luminous quality of pigment floated across rough-toothed paper, each hue carefully chosen. Keeping the vibrancy of the surface alive and the paper glowing through is essential. Her objective, which is a sensation, is elusive and hard won. Underpinning these works is the notion “that everything, material, however small, has an element of consciousness.”
Vivienne Murchison has been painting her whole life and studied at the Ilam School of Fine Arts once her family was raised, gaining an MFA with Distinction in 2019. Since then she has  exhibited at PG gallery192, most notably with her solo show Go Beyond, 2020.

 

Moorings [Stranded Assets II], by Jenna Packer, 2024, acrylic on canvas, 910 x 1220mm, $9000 Anchorage [Stranded Assets I], by Jenna Packer, 2024, acrylic on canvas, 910 x 1220mm, $9000
Location [I], by Jenna Packer, 2024, acrylic on canvas, 506 x 250mm, $2500 Location [II], by Jenna Packer, 2024, acrylic on canvas, 506 x 250mm, $2500 (SOLD) Location [III], by Jenna Packer, 2024, acrylic on canvas, 506 x 250mm, $1900
Jenna Packer had been looking for a way to reference Toile de Jouy, printed fabrics from the 18thC, since working in costume in France many years ago. Meantime, meditating on the climate crisis had pulled her towards the notion of cognitive dissonance, ie. the normalising of future forecasts and current hardships to a point where these become as wallpaper to our lives, an irritating vibration. In this form we can thus ignore them. “These paintings aren’t just as a critique of society in general, but a sort of open confession. I want the beauty and the ability to go about my life and find joy, while at the same time I feel overwhelmed by the knowledge that I hold.” Sailing ships, oil rigs and marooned cars float on a blue and sepia field in the two large paintings in this exhibition. The smaller works are set in Augustus Earle colonial landscapes from the 1820’s. Jenna Packer lives and works in Dunedin and has exhibited her lush paintings and delicate prints throughout New Zealand since graduating from Ilam School of Art in 1988.

 

Dry Den, by Chris Pole, 2024, oil on canvas, framed, 1524 x 508mm, $3250Howling Wolf, by Chris Pole, 2024, oil on canvas, framed, 600 x 600mm, $2000
Chris Pole “These two works evoke the different moods evident at disparate locations. Mangawhai on the  east coast of the North Island comes with crashing waves running across sand bars and filling tidal pools, the dark slick of water rushing over, around, and through textured rock formations. A more gentle meeting of the ocean and the shore occurs in Dryden Bay, a remote inlet in the South Island’s Marlborough Sounds. The water lapping at the vertical bush maintains a stillness and tranquility inherent to this quiet corner of our coastline.” Chris is a keen outdoorsman and often has his camera with him. The shots he takes become the starting point for re-envisioned landscapes. His brushwork is textured and the paintings are executed with detailed care. He disrupts this intimacy with slices that slide one set of rocks against another, as if tectonic plates had abrupty moved. In this way he reveals the vagueness of human perception and implies change and fragility. Chris Pole has been exhibiting since 2002, most recently at Ashburton Art Gallery with Crooked Spur an installation of paintings with video and soundscape.

Sumner Stroll, by Stefan Roberts 2024, archival pigment print, 245 x 1010mm framed, $1350
Stefan Roberts “Memories do not have edges. When I recall a journey, I find my recollections fixate only on small visual fragments of the trip. And my mind stitches these fragments; it blends them despite the missing parts. I have built a camera that tries to replicate this experience. I have done away with the discrete photographic frame. Vistas spill to the outer edges of the film as well as becoming serendipitously entangled with others along the strip. The strip is not a decisive moment, it represents the journey, the flow, like a drifting memory recalling the essence of a place.” Stefan Roberts has exhibited both in Aotearoa and overseas for over 25 years, His work has received recognition in many of NZ’s significant art awards. His approach to photography as a medium is always thought through, directed, inventive and sometimes makeshift. He has frequently used a pin-hole camera, left in the landscape for months, open to the chance recording of seasonal change. For the photograph in COAST he trickily wound on the film while panning the shoreline, offering us an unusual image. but one that replicates the journey of our own eye.