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  • Writer's pictureSuzy Costello, workbooks

Exhibition, Week 5 17-21 Aug 2020

Location, proposal, meeting with Kingsley, testing our artwork together, gallery visit and lecture on digital exhibitions by Raewyn Martyn.

1.THOMAS KING OBSERVATORY IN BOTANICAL GARDENS Lee sent an email stating, "Anton Carter, from The Wellington Museums Trust approached us with the offering of a possible exhibition venue. It is the Thomas King Observatory, at the top of the Wellington cable car. It is a small venue, but has been used recently by artists such as Michael Tuffery. You would need to offer a proposal - adapted from Tuesdays

presentation - and meet with Anton. He is also very interested in proposals

that would in some way acknowledge the heritage status of the venue, and

it's connection to astronomy and the worlds of science. This doesn't have

to be madly literal; it could be subtle and respectful. But if this sounds

interesting, contact me and we can talk, and I can put you in contact with


Wow its beautiful - it has a cupola and we are very keen. Our theme of perception and perspective talks to the idea of observing nature through time - two important components of the Thomas King Observatory.

This article from the Friends of Wellington Botancial Gardens offers a detailed history of the site. It explains the the observatory was established for time keeping purposes. "In colonial times there was no need for accurate time keeping, and each district observed their local solar time, with the result the clocks throughout the colony varied by some 50 minutes. However the development of coastal and international shipping, and in particular the railway and the telegraph system showed the necessity of a standard time throughout the country. In 1868, on the recommendation of Sir James Hector, a standard time 11.5 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time was set, altered to 12 hours ahead in 1941.” (sourced from


  • A Transit Room from Colonial Observatory. Opened 1869, although possibly the original 1863 building from Customhouse Quay, moved from the 'Seddon' site 1906, demolished 1961

  • B Hector/Dominion Observatory Opened 1907

  • C King Edward VII Memorial Observatory / Thomas King Observatory Opened 1912

  • D The Wellington City Observatory was located approximately here Opened 1924 Closed 1941

  • E Carter Observatory Opened 1941

  • 1 Outline of gun pit from 1896 battery

  • 2 Site of battery range finder, dome housed astrolabe used in 1927 International Longitude Campaign and 1957/58 Geophysical year. As a result centre of dome location is more accurately known with respect to other parts of the world than any other point in NZ

  • 3 Line approximate boundary of the car park proposed in 1952. Included the scout den and significant contouring of the land, approximately one third of the reserve , plus some garden land.

  • 4 Meteorological enclosure, established 1925, still in use


Izzy is preparing a proposal to give to Anton.

We have been asked to shorten our artist statement so mine is -

"Using hundreds of discarded cicada (kihikihi wawa) shells, pōhutukawa stamen and wood collected from my local area has led to an exploration of the narratives and materiality of these natural materials. I am interested in the interrelationship between art and science to further our understanding of non human living forms."


We had a zoom meeting with Kingsley Baird, our mentor during the exhibition project. He stressed getting to know the site, visiting it together and finding the link - he thought Victoria's suggestion of observation seemed a goodie. He agreed the idea of bringing our work altogether was a good idea as we would understand how we interconnect. And he felt Anoushka and Darnah taking on the promotional, graphic design and communication role was a really important part of the project. Offered to come and see our works on Friday too. Very helpful.

4. TESTING OUR WORK TODAY Izzy, Breena and I booked an exhibition space in T24 to practice installing our work together. This was really valuable as we were challenged by issues and decisions of placement, lighting, and installation methods. There was a lot of feedback from the Art Studio critique!!! The experience highlighted lots of opportunities for improvement and reflection, but also made us appreciate the supportiveness inherent in our team - we are pretty fortunate to have this.

The effort to make the artwork on the site meant installing the artwork was labour intensive for me and I will probably not do this work for the exhibition. I also struggled with where to place my work in response to the site, Izzy's installation and Breena's artworks which were hung in a corner. Initially I thought I would place mine opposite Izzy's but it didn't feel right, and because Breena had selected the corner opposite, there seemed only one place left to install without interrupting the doorway. As it was, I had to dismantle and reinstall the artwork as it was too close to Izzy's working area. I think this has taught me that we need to investigate the exhibition space earlier and draw out the areas before we even begin installing.

This was the first time any of us had used lighting which raised a number of concerns i.e. flattening the 3-d quality of the works, and the use of colour to change the atmosphere of the installation. Next time I would like to give more time to ask Mike for his help and advice.

5. RAEWYN MARTYN ON VIRTUAL SPACES AND PUBLICATIONS EXHIBITIONS Raewyn presented a very thoughtful lecture (via Zoom due to level 2 Covid) on non-site exhibitions e.g. examples of virtual spaces and publications as virtual space. This will be important as we will need to consider a plan b incase of level 3 lockdown. However these ideas of communicating through virtual space and publications are still relevant even in the case of on-site exhibitions as they leave a permanent viewing platform of the event after the actual exhibition is completed. Ideas discussed were -

Online/Digital -

  • Blog / Tumblr / Arena

  • Website

  • Instagram

  • Other forms of social media and networked distribution/circulation

  • Newsletter

  • E-book

  • VR

Physical media or recording -

  • Catalogue / publication

  • Artist book

  • Zine

  • Mail Art

  • Posters / flyers / ephemera

  • Hybrid e-book --print-on-demand (can include embedded video / moving image)


We visited the Emma McIntrye _HEAT_ exhibition at Mossman Gallery, which is tucked away down a small Wellington street on the 2nd floor 22 Garret Street Te Aro. It's quite discretely signposted which was interesting and Bjorn Houtman opened the studio just for us.

There were two rooms - a small side room (with brochures and small photography) exquisitely painted a flat, nude pink colour (pashmina) which contrasted beautifully with the large white cube room of the gallery exhibiting Emma's work.

The gallery space was accessed by a side corridor so your first impression on entering the room was to encounter the artworks in their entirety - quite a chaotic and wildly busy experience. The starkness of the room (white walls, floors and ceiling and cool lighting devoid of natural light) created a focused atmosphere to experience the artworks and the room was large enough to view the work(s) from afar as well as close up. This was important as the works are full of layering, mark making, colour, pattern and texture. Interestingly, there were no artworks on the end wall but the large canvases were hung facing each other (3 on one wall and 2 on the other), creating a dialogue between the works and allowing colour to vibrate and fill the room and reflect off the walls.

There was no written material on the walls which I really like as it can interrupt your experience of enjoying the works. There was also no red stickers despite all works being sold prior to the exhibition opening! Mossman Gallery must have a very mature and trusting clientele to generate such a successful result.


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