REVIEW: ConTXT; Dave Carson, Jane Duncan, Kirstie Hogg, Emma Panting, Giles Panting and Lisa White. Refinery Artspace, until September 29.
Using imaginative portrayals of birds and animals, beach, forest and farm and the people who live there, this group of Tapawera artists bring gusts of refreshing country air to town, none more so than Kirstie Hogg.
It is clear that through her day job as a shearer she knows sheep. The six, set against a muted brown and black background in the large rectangular oil on board, titled A Strong Eye, are disarmingly individual.
Four are fixated on the sheepdog while the other two gaze straight out at the viewer in an appealing and balanced depiction. Linking and giving a theme to all the artworks are chosen excerpts from prose and poetry.
It is a lovely idea, with no better interpretation than the elegant yet practical slip pottery by Giles Panting. Reddy browns, slate greys and blues on cream, his pots exactly capture the sea and sand colours of Sam Hunt's At Castor Bay. “I found the colour of your flesh this morning - a tidal bank exposed at low water . . .” and this evocative poem accompanies the work.
A little gold can go a long way and consequently I find Emma Pantings' acrylic and charcoal on canvas wall hangings rather overwhelming. Using Virginia Woolf's novel Orlando crammed with opulent imagery as the inspiration for her work, the temptation to use gold paint is perhaps understandable.
Her beautiful peacock with doves, red flowers and a prone Orlando on the moor as Nature's Bride is exotic enough. It would be even more accessible without so much glitter.
Lisa White, known mainly for figurative oil paintings, takes flights of fancy with her three Departures, oil on canvas, celebrating the marvellous imagination of Jules Verne. There are robots with apparent light bulbs for heads; women and children in Victorian dress, trunk packed ready for travel by balloon and, most delightfully, a little robot dog - fun and whimsical.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull inspired readers to fly high, brave and free. As a nice touch, blue seagulls are printed on the walls around the oil on canvas Seagull series from Jane Duncan.
I liked two in particular, Infinite Silence and Flowing Silence. With no seagull in sight, maybe a bird's eye view from above, they are whooshing cascades of water, one green, the other blue, against dark rocks and are powerful and lovely.
The outstanding piece in this exhibition is Forest Fire by Dave Carson, wizard extraordinaire with used saw blades, piano parts and wood byproducts.
This stunning sculpture, legs from an inverted upper canopy of a dead chinese elm, leaves of wood off-cuts, is coloured with black stain and thinned artists oils and dominates the exhibition. It would look wonderful in the right home or office with plenty of space to show it off.
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