Artistic 'souls' enjoy having fun

ANNA PEARSON
Last updated 12:46 12/09/2012
Air Souls
ANNA PEARSON/FAIRFAX NZ
HAVING FUN: Mike Perry, Deborah Walsh and Jo Tyson at their exhibition Air Souls, at Reflections Art Gallery.

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A purple scooter cobbled together by Mapua artist Mike Perry takes centre stage in a celebration of all things fun and wacky at Reflections Art Gallery.

The exhibition, Air Souls, features works by Perry, Jo Tyson and Deborah Walsh.

All three have interpreted the theme in their own ways, resulting in a showcase of their collective cleverness, tongue-in-cheek humour and sense of fun.

Perry's scooter is "all the good aspects of motorcycles, rolled into one rolling unit".

The scooter body, made out of sheet metal, has "chopper" qualities - adding to its manliness.

"You have got to be in touch with your sexuality to drive a motor scooter. They're sort of looked down upon as a form of transport. Some people wouldn't be seen dead on them," he says.

Perry collects vintage motor scooters, because they're "cheap, comical and bring joy to the world".

The exhibition, he says, was a good excuse to get the bike to the "second stage". It's still a work-in-progress, because he is yet to finish the mechanics.

So how does a purple, chopper-inspired scooter tie in with the Air Souls theme?

"Riding motorcycles is a bit like having wings," he says.

Perry, a potter as well as a sculptor, has also made a collection of edgy cups and small sculptures.

There's an angel with a chainsaw, a nun driving a motorbike and personified mugs.

"I have been able to trace everything I do back to my mother force-feeding us Dr Seuss," he says.

This is the third time Walsh and Tyson have come together for a group show.

"I love working with Deb, because she's so funny and talented. Her work is so clever," says Tyson.

Walsh likes to push the boundaries of new mediums, be it an obscure fibre from the Cook Islands, rubber gumboots used to make piglets or plain old sticks.

She made a series of moths using different materials a while ago, including one using tapa cloth donated by a friend. It started a love affair with the new medium, which she has used to create more giant moths, weta and sparrows.

The birds have wire feet with bodies made from shredded tapa cloth, stitched together.

"I absolutely love making these, because to me they're three-dimensional drawings. I consider them to be drawings rather than sculptures," she says.

Walsh has also made five hanging bats from fur and animal skin, which cling to a ledge at the gallery.

"One of them is leopard skin. People will probably be totally repulsed by them, but I think there is something quite fascinating about them. I'm a little bit obsessed by materials."

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Tyson says the exhibition's theme allowed her to indulge her interests in transport, planes, ships, cars and her favourite era - the 1950s: "I'm really born out of my time."

Her painting Fifty Shags of Grey looks like retro curtain material and she has painted planes on board, including Bristol Freighters - like the ones that used to lumber past her house overlooking Tasman Bay.

Tyson makes artworks out of what she has at home, what she is given by friends and what she scavenges from the beach.

She paints lighthouses, birds, fish, anthropomorphic animals and "mad words" on driftwood and bits of old boat.

"Art is a joyous thing for me. I suppose my environment definitely shapes my work," she says.

Air Souls, Mike Perry, Jo Tyson and Deborah Walsh, Reflections Art Gallery, until October 13.

- Nelson

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