Contrasting exhibitions

MARNIE GOLDTHORPE
Last updated 14:26 18/07/2012

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Arts reviews

Residency pays dividends Time taken is well spent Difficult conversations laid bare Dramatic work by serious artist A move to unfamiliar waters Kiwi scenes conjure sense of adventure Exhibition sparks, but doesn't catch fire Nice, new, but where's the young blood? Intelligent engagement with audience Doors open to creative minds

REVIEW: Infested and The Rising Tide, Refinery Artspace. Reviewed by Marnie Goldthorpe.

The two exhibitions now on show at the Refinery are complementary yet differ markedly in style, feel and success.

Infested, by Lisa Grennell occupies the first smaller space and is attractive, using bold black stencils showing seemingly innocent scenes - a child on a swing; a boy with a butterfly net - and patches of colour. I liked the format of the work (primed unstretched canvas pinned to the wall), and the way the artist had worked on to the walls as well, a crossover into installation.

On extended viewing though I became a bit underwhelmed. The "street-art" format when used so simply does not interest me much - the works felt too minimalist, and not in the sense that saying less sometimes says more.

They also seemed produced with formulaic variation - stencil image of person plus significant object (buzzy bee/Popsicle . . .) plus colour - rather than variation that pushed the concept further.

I think a bit more darkness or subversion maybe would have left a stronger impression.

Helping myself to some free Minties, (nice touch, perhaps we could have been encouraged to throw them on the floor to up the ante?) I moved into Rising Tide.

In contrast to Infested, this show is truly minimalist but also manages a sense of the colossal. Catharine Hodson has built a pyramid of used takeaway cups which are experienced through smell and sight. Uniformly black, they are a stark three metre arrow pointing UP.

A waterfall made of plastic bottles, by Chrissy Cleary, Didi Bleinagel and Marc Lenton, is housed much better here than its former position in the G-Space gallery at the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology; flowing from an opening near the roof, down and out across the floor it seemingly approaches us. For the first time I saw how many different brands use the colour blue to advertise their water, obviating the attempt of the manufactured to evoke the natural.

The partitioning in the show is perfect. The two works are experienced individually - you don't get the full pyramid view until you turn around to look back, while coming round a corner to see the pool is just like discovering an oasis - but made of what?

Each work makes a strong, striking statement - monumental art made out of separate pieces of junk.

The issue being explored is too big to discuss in this review but Nick Haig's essay is a sincere and thoughtful read.

The exhibition evoked admiration of the work while arousing dismay at the state of our world. They deserve a much bigger audience - global, I'd say.

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Both exhibitions continue until Saturday at the Refinery Artspace in Halifax St.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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