Noel McKenna - Sheltered Life

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Media Release: July, 2005. 

City Gallery Wellington is proud to announce an upcoming solo project by Sydney-based artist Noel McKenna. Noel McKenna – Sheltered Life will be on show at City Gallery Wellington from 10 July to 18 September 2005.

Noel McKenna’s intriguing narrative paintings have been widely exhibited in Australia over the past two decades. A genuinely trans-Tasman artist, McKenna has strong ties with New Zealand: he has held three solo exhibitions in Wellington, produced a series of works about the Southland region, illustrated books by New Zealand poets and had work included in Parihaka: The Art of Passive Resistance at City Gallery Wellington in 2000.

Noel McKenna’s art is triggered by the everyday world around us and the poetry that can sometimes be found in ordinary situations. He says "I have a general philosophy that the things that I do just come from everyday life and you do find strange things in everyday life."

McKenna’s past works have included paintings of racehorses, of key cricketing moments, of tourist monuments (the gigantic pineapples and galahs that are the Australian equivalent of Ohakune’s giant carrot) and painted reproductions of lost pet posters. His work shows a wry and subtle sense of humour, often tinged with a sense of pathos.

For his exhibition at City Gallery Wellington, McKenna explores various notions of home: 'home town', 'home away from home', 'homelessness', the 'homing' impulse. In addition to a number of his characteristic paintings, ‘Sheltered Life’ will also include several of McKenna’s sculptural works – enigmatic constructions which play with scale and incorporate found objects.

Noel McKenna’s art has an affinity with the written word. Text often appears in his work, and, as New Zealand writer Damien Wilkins has said: “Writers love his stuff. Is it because his paintings often have a discrete narrative force? They seem to come from a larger story that is always on the point of being told, and they have an off-hand charm that flatters …” Appropriately then, Sheltered Life includes a series of McKenna’s ceramic vases featuring texts by New Zealand writer Jenny Bornholdt.

Noel McKenna was born in Brisbane in 1956. Currently he lives and works in Sydney. He has been exhibiting since the early 1980s and has had numerous solo exhibitions in both Australia and New Zealand. Work by McKenna is also included in the National Gallery of Australia touring exhibition, Home Sweet Home: Works from the Peter Fay Collection, which will be on show at Dunedin Public Art Gallery this winter (9 July - 18 September).

Noel McKenna – Sheltered Life 

City Gallery Wellington 

10 July – 18 September 

Free entry