Enjoy Public Art Gallery has been on the cultural landscape in Wellington since 2000. If you haven’t been there, it’s on level one at 147 Cuba Street, and was established as an artists-run non-commercial project space.
As a project space, Enjoy is able to show work that public institutions don’t take on. It’s a place where artists try things out — although projects are rigorously screened before they are programmed. Don’t feel intimidated if you don’t ‘understand’ things — it’s a complex, nuanced and multi-dimensional world we live in, and the exhibitions at Enjoy reflect this, critiquing, synthesising and engaging a range of histories, stories, events and ideas. It can be heady stuff.
In October I went to the opening of an installation by Paula Schaafhausen with Suzanne Tamaki, called Ebbing Tagaloa. The gallery floor was covered in Tagaloa figures made from sand and coconut oil. Over the course of the exhibition, they slowly disintegrated, melting into a pool of oil and sand. The metaphor was simple but potent.
And the annual Buy Enjoy exhibition is not to be missed. Artists donate work for this December show, where everything on sale is around $125. There are always things I want, and I still think longingly of the Karin van Roosmalen work I missed out on a couple of years ago.
This month at Enjoy is an exhibition called The Levelling of Puke Ahu (dates tbc). It includes the work of Bronwyn Holloway-Smith, Izzy O’Neil, Angela Kilford and Elijah Winter. Puke Ahu is the original name for the Mt Cook area through which Wallace Street runs, and the exhibition draws on histories of the former Dominion Museum and National War Memorial site.
Each of the artists takes some aspect of the history as a starting point for their work. Holloway-Smith, for instance, found an Evening Post photograph of a felled cabbage tree taken in the area in 1951 and collaged the image into a contemporary scene of the site, where ironically a healthy grove of cabbage trees currently flourishes. The title of the work, Monument to an Unknown Victim, suggests events going on at the time — especially the waterfront lock-out — and what might have prompted this vandalism.
Izzy O’Neil documents the sexual assaults that occurred on the site in 2014, including the correspondence between Massey University and the student body.
Angela Kilford’s work is a walking tour. Without judging any of the decisions made — the motorway tunnel, the redevelopment of the site as a National War Memorial precinct — she shares her knowledge of the site’s stories and histories. Who knew, for example, that there is a local memorial to the Parihaka prisoners who were held here before being moved to the South Island?
Add Enjoy to your gallery rounds.[info]
Contemporary furniture design in New Zealand is hard to find without digging about. It is possible to buy all manner of overseas brands here, but often hard to know who is designing furniture locally. Humphrey Ikin and David Trubridge are household names, but who else designs and makes contemporary furniture? This month (until 22 March) at the Dowse is Modern Revivals, an exhibition to answer that question. It includes 20 works by Simon James, Nathan Goldsworthy, Designtree, Well-Groomed-Fox, David Moreland, Douglas and Bec, Clark Bardsley, Timothy John, Tréology, Tim Webber, Candywhistle, Jamie McLellan, Duncan Sargent, Y.S Collective and Fitzsimons.[/info]