New Wellington Artists
‘An Introduction to the Theory of Everything’ presents four new projects marrying the everyday with ideas of the fantastical, theoretical and the metaphysical. The title of the show acknowledges the appeal of the search for an elusive Theory of Everything; a mathematical formula which neatly encompasses and makes sense of all systems at play in the physical world.
The artists in ‘An Introduction to the Theory of Everything’ demonstrate their own various approaches to investigating some of the world’s big phenomena, examining such diverse areas as medical and environmental science to quantum mechanics. However, the processes and resources they use relate to what they have at hand—a DIY pseudo-scientific approach which allows for discrepancies, ambiguities and the potential of chance.
Amy Howden-Chapman’s video work documents her attempts to re-create the somewhat mysterious phenomenon known as the North Pacific Gyre—a massive swirling whirlpool of ocean in the North Pacific. Howden-Chapman extended an open-call to the public to represent the rubbish which floats in the gyre, by running in organised formation around a field. The event and its record hope to highlight the huge scale of this phenomenon, while also investigating the role multiple participants can have in an artwork’s creation. Howden-Chapman’s inclusive approach to producing this work reflects her belief that environmental issues can only be tackled by collective involvement from society.
Also concerned with re-creating the natural world, Bronwyn Smith's drawings represent her marvel at that beyond which we can see. In Armada Smith turned her focus to the large breakaway icebergs that featured in the media during November 2006 as they drifted towards New Zealand's southern coastline. Sourcing images of these icebergs off the Internet, Smith attempted to re-create them by covering household objects with fabric and subsequently rendering their hidden shadowy forms on canvas. The drawings' potential for multiple readings define Armada as a delicate gesture, rich with cultural comment.
Amit Charan, too, is preoccupied with visible and invisible phenomena which he investigates through a series of performances. In Think Tank Charan explores his interest in imaging the shape of an abstract thought pattern through EEG (or Electroencephalography), a form of brain scanning. In clinical use, the output is decoded and displayed on a computer screen as various visual diagrams. However in Think Tank the experience of the process rather than its resulting data is brought to the fore.
Rachel O’Neill’s practice also seeks to incorporate the methodology of research into a framework that mirrors the everyday. O’Neill has a longstanding attraction to the idea of Black Holes, an intriguing but puzzling phenomenon for the non-Scientist to comprehend. Her installation in the side room of the gallery uses the common household black plastic rubbish bag to represent these entities. In conjunction with her gallery work, O’Neill has set up a blog site for viewers to post their responses to some spam e-mails which have fascinated her recently. Responses can be viewed and added to at http://spampal.blogspot.com.Grappling with concepts of space, time and infinity; O’Neill locates questions of quantum mechanics into our daily lives.
Amit Charan was born in Fiji in 1984. He has a Bachelor of Media Arts from Waikato Institute of Technology, Hamilton (2005) and a post graduate Diploma in Fine Arts from Massey University, Wellington (2006). Charan exhibited in Weird Names for Girls, Platform01 Gallery, Hamilton (2004) and was a finalist in the Waikato Art Awards (2005). He is currently a Board member of Enjoy Public Art Gallery, Wellington and lives in Newtown.
Amy Howden-Chapman is a Wellington-based artist and writer, born in 1984. She has a Masters degree in Creative Writing, Victoria University, (2005) and an Honours degree in Art History, Victoria University, (2006). Amy has taken part in Interventions, an art in public spaces initiative, Wellington, 2004; touring exhibition Old Habits Die Hard, organised by the Sparwasser Gallery, Berlin, Germany, (2004-2005); and A Brief History of Time, The Engine Room, Wellington, (2006). She stages performances as part of a group called Raised by Wolves and currently lives in Mount Cook.
Rachel O'Neill was born in 1983. She graduated with a conjoint Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Fine Arts degree majoring in Sculpture and English from Auckland University in 2005. She exhibited Hallways of Lives at Enjoy Public Art Gallery, Wellington, in 2006 and has been in group shows yourereallydifficultolivewith, rm103, Auckland (2005); Dielectric Constant, George Fraser Gallery, Auckland (2005); and was a finalist in the 13th Annual Wallace Art Awards in late 2004. O'Neill lives in Newtown.
Bronwyn Smith was born in Lower Hutt in 1982. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Hons), Massey University, Wellington (2005). Smith’s first solo exhibition Wildlife was at Enjoy Public Art Gallery, Wellington (2006). She has also been in group shows, Working Title, Show, Wellington (2006) and Makebelieve, rm 103, Auckland (2006). She currently lives in Te Aro.
Michael Hirschfeld Gallery Curator