Gravity and Levity

A group exhibition featuring Louise McRae, Veronika Maser, Holly Shepheard, Tevita Sung, Janna van Hasselt, Rebecca Thomson, Alice Alva, Annie Sandano, Kate Banazi, Sarah Williams, Stafford Allpress and Mark Rayner



open: 10am-4pm Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 September

performance event: Dais by Louise McRae, 12 noon Saturday 26 September

location: The Tuesday Club, 42 Airedale St, Auckland City (entrance on Lyndock St) Link here for directions

The artists exhibiting in Gravity and Levity push back against the pressures of this strange time with humour and solemnity in equal measure.

Stafford Allpress Bubble Isolate Rebecca Thomson Blue Horse

Click on artists' names highlighted below for more information

Louise McRae stacks imperfect polyhedrons and biomorphic forms in columns or groups to form singularly unmonumental monuments which teeter on the edge of collapse. Cubes, spheres and blobs are chain sawed from wood or cast from concrete and painted, others rasped or charred with a flame. These works serve as symbols for the tipping points for our social, political, financial, and environmental structures which now sit on shifting ground. A desire to push the static object toward motion has led McRae to add a living element to her works in the form of a body, bringing with it warmth, humanity and movement. While the heavy curvesome sculptures verge on the anthropomorphic, the female body used as a material pushes toward object. McRae’s performance, Dais, creates an inter-relationship between the two; between humanity and the world.

Veronika Maser’s woven wire sculptures chart and subdivide space with beguiling optical effects. They also resemble microorganisms in diagrammatic form, suggesting patterns for harmonious and sustainable growth. Maser's work has a strong emphasis on line as she pares back geometric elements to deceptively simple forms. The large scale of her recent pieces imbues them with a sense of the sublime - as sites for contemplation or psychological landscapes.

Holly Shepheard works across various artistic disciplines to produce work that is both personal and symbolic. She works with ideas related to subjectivity, materiality and transformation. Shepheard’s most recent paintings have evolved from an interest in the way new visual forms emerge from the process of erasure, obscuring and metamorphosis. Each piece has undergone many physical manifestations, each layer complete in itself before Shepheard moves to erase, conceal and cover. These alternately transparent and opaque layers act as protective skins. Shepheard relies on instinct; that strong natural impulse to work with the fluidity of paint and the mutability made available to the maker through process.

Tevita (Hyun Do) Sung’s imagined landscapes are broken down into a sort of plastic geometry; their forms rendered simply and graphically to the point where they transform into abstract compositions or fields of pattern. Contrasting high-key colours are juxtaposed to evoke a sense of strata and depth. Sung’s works describe an emotional, even utopian experience of the landscape; he is concerned with perception, imagination, memory and desire rather than topography. 

Janna van Hasselt's work is characterised by a pleasure in materials and a strong sense of spontaneity, playfulness and humour. It is tactile and exuberant and van Hasselt works with media ranging from printed and dyed fabric to puff pigment, ceramics, hot glue and inflatables. The works often have a feeling of controlled chaos; knots, tubes, folds and stacks are van Hasselt’s forms of choice as she experiments with the tension, stress and gravity of each object made or represented. She also explores the idea of architectural failure, questioning how far her structures can be pushed before they collapse. Some works see photographs of these sculptural forms overlaid with disruptive patterns. We are prompted to consider authenticity and contradictory truths; pertinent themes in today’s uncertain climate.

Rebecca Thomson works in collagraph and drawing, using collected pieces of fabric, paper or other furnishings as source materials. She faithfully represents flaws and stains, depth and dimension with slight shifts of tone and surface texture, employing a range of drawing, print and collage techniques to execute highly detailed imagery. Thomson’s recent works consider rates of change. The Creased series refers to protection and exposure, and the damage incurred over time. While the sections encased in glass remain protected the exposed section continues to age. Other works refer to giftwrap, tissue, confetti and other paper objects used in celebration which are destroyed through use.

Alice Alva is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Wellington who works across drawing and illustration, textiles, painting and graphic design. Located at the intersection between art and craft, Alva’s textile and embroidery works explore pattern, architecture and the process of drawing with thread. Her works offer a vibrant, whimsical and optimistic view on the state of the world.

Annie Sandano works in a variety of media including print, paint and more recently ceramics. Her new works combine geometric and organic shapes in freeform arrangements with eruptions of colour and texture. She works with what she calls a “virology of colour”: elements overlap, interact, jostle for space and achieve harmony in co-existence. Testing where painting ends and object  begins, Sandano's painted elements often creep over the edges of her supports, distorting the lines of their rectilinear forms and edging toward the three-dimensionality of her ceramic pieces.

Kate Banazi’s work is experimental, bold, intuitive and often playful. She works with the subtle variations of serigraph printing, layering colour and graphic elements alongside linear structures and hand drawn forms. Her current work celebrates relationships, identity, movement, shadow and colour. Her shapes are held together by the tension between their parts but somehow threaten to collapse, not unlike everyday life in all its unpredictable glory. Banazi also embraces the flaws in the silk screen itself; pinholes and marks which would ordinarily be repaired are accepted and celebrated, contrary to the idea of silkscreen printing as a facsimile process. 

Sarah Williams’ confident and decisive movements with the brush and palette knife produce paintings which are rich, vibrant and tactile. Williams applies layer upon layer of paint; each mixed with the previous application or concealed by the following action to produce subtle variations in texture, colour and lustre. For the most part, Williams’ compositions are derived from banal architectural spaces - staircases, rooms, corridors and the like. These often have a haunting emptiness and anonymity about them and yet also an uneasy familiarity that allows the viewer to project themselves into them; the planes of her angled walls take on an impossible perspective of unease that is truer to memory than any schematic could be.

Stafford Allpress creates exquisitely faithful miniature renderings of everyday objects and environments. He describes his making as an act of archiving which is intended to go beyond any ‘cute’ factor and challenge the viewer to look harder. He has a deep appreciation for the ordinary objects which populate our lives and values the ugliness that befalls them as they are used to the point of dereliction. He is also interested in recording and archiving personal, domestic spaces; his surfaces are faithful to the sullied originals and so document the history and activities of previous owners. As the title would suggest, Allpress' Bubble series came out of his time spent in lockdown.

Mark Rayner’s ceramics are a modern and playful take on the grotesque; a style characterised by exaggeration, excess, the fantastic and sometimes the abject. In recent years, Rayner has begun to work across a variety of other media, including photography and latch hook rugs. He explores unlikely juxtapositions between medium and subject, playing with traditional craft techniques to create objects and images that can be alternately construed at frightening, beguiling and absurd.