top of page
  • Writer's pictureSuzy Costello, workbooks

Art Studio Week 1, 20-24 July 2020

Art Studio class and the Exhibition paper and beginning a new semester on site! Artists Peter Madden and Anne Noble.


Beginning this second semester on site, after so much off-site study and art making, feels very tentative. It is almost like starting a new year again. However, it is good to be back together and to walk around the campus and see all the work that has been done in the metal room and new exhibition spaces.

I've decided to explore the Cicada shells collected last summer that were left over from their final in-star molt. After lots of thinking about how to display them, I decided to simply begin by pairing them with (imitation) gold leaf as the material seems to speak about transformation and metamorphosis. Nature's design of leaving behind an exoskeleton to become a winged living form able to fly has long captivated humanity who use it as a metaphor to speak of inner freedom and spiritual understanding .... so lots to explore. Shannon suggested approaching Anne Noble given the environmental themes explored in my artwork, which I will do, and referenced Peter Madden's work of painting flies!

2. EXHIBITION PAPER So the focus of this semester is making art to exhibit, in real or virtual space. The seven lecturers shared their diverse exhibition practices i.e. Simon Morris's site specific, durational and collaborative exhibitions, Lee Jensen's highlights of museums displaying abject art, Rachael Rakena's outdoor installations and collaborations, Catherine Bagnall's quirky performative fantasy costume walking tours and illustrations in books, Raewyn Martyn's use of digital and social media to exhibit a new collaborative project Flat Earthers, Kingsley Baird's site installations around the world and Gabrielle Amodeo's innovative exhibitions showcasing bookmaking. Lots of food for thought.

The all time high of 175 students enrolled on the course is a little intimidating. We need to organise ourselves into groups of 4-5 people to design and manage our group exhibition. This means there will be over 30 exhibitions in Wellington city over a 9 day period. Quite a competition for space.

We have been asked to create a poster to advertise our skills. Below is mine -

At Friday's Art Studio class, Shannon shared his wisdom gleaned during his time working on this paper -

  1. Allow group direction to evolve from the collection of the artworks, e.g. aesthetics thematics, but be malleable and keep it loose to allow diversity

  2. Use lecturers and engage in a robust exchange in the installation and finer details

  3. When hanging take a couple of things out. Most exhibitions have too much stuff

  4. Investigate how you pull together an audience and consider the option of digital exhibitions

  5. Document everything as it will affect your grades


Here's a link to an extraordinary interview of NZ artist Peter Madden talking with Robert Leonard about his collage work. Peter describes his work as "reterritorialisation... I liberate photographic fragments from their original snap-and-capture setting and reposition them in the space of art".

Leonard describes his works as "metaphor-rich other-worlds" operating in both the vanitas still-life tradition and new-age spirituality. "On the one hand, he is death-obsessed: a master of morbid decoupage. On the other hand, with his flocks, schools, and swarms of quivering animal energy, Madden revels in biodiversity. His works manage to be at once morbid and abundant, rotting and blooming, creepy and fey."

Despite Maddens' protests that he is "not engaged in a deep, deconstructive, political critique", it's a great article with an acerbic, tongue-in-cheek dissection of contemporary art, humanity and modern society,

Painted Flies and Crouching with Moths by Peter Madden


Here is a link to Ocula and another NZ artist, Anne Noble, in conversation with Kate Brettkelly-Chalmers in 2015. Anne discusses her exhibition Nature Study and her fascination and exploration of the honeybee. Her art creates a window for us to examine how we perceive and understand the natural world as she collaborates with scientists to "understand, contain and manage the impact of technology on the health of the environment and the risks to bee populations with the decline in pollination." This is such an exciting vehicle for artmaking. She states, "Art has an imperative to ask some parallel but different questions (than science) that draw on our sensory and imaginative capacity to fully comprehend the impact of human action on natural biological systems." Love it, and she likes process!

Anne Noble Bee (private collection) www.ocula


bottom of page