Safe Places - New Wellington Artists

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Media Release: September, 2003. 

Bright, bubbly and optimistic – Safe Places is the third exhibition in the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery’s series of annual shows presenting work by emerging artists. Safe Places opens on 12 September and showcases some of the best work by new Wellington artists – Chris Clements, Shay Launder, Toshi Endo, Clem Devine and Fiona Gillmore.

The show explores ‘safe places’ – presenting art works which operate as active spaces for playing, for both artist and audience. Curator Emma Bugden describes the works in Safe Places as cunningly witty. "These are artists who use irony in their work, but with humour and charm which is very refreshing."

"Safe Places reflects a new generation of artists in Wellington producing incredibly exciting work across a range of media. The Michael Hirschfeld Gallery is committed to supporting talented new artists and these five are certainly ones to keep an eye on.”

Artist and musician Chris Clements works across painting and sculpture, investigating the disciplines of archaeology and history. In Safe Places he explores ideas of housing and containment. Nostalgic without ever being sentimental, Clements’ work evokes both personal and collective histories.

A recent graduate from the Masters programme of Sydney College of the Arts, Shay Launder is currently teaching first year design at the Massey University’s School of Design, Fine Arts and Music. In Safe Places Launder’s sculpture of a large soft felt boulder looks like nature by way of the local craft store.

Wellington designer Toshi Endo graduated from the University of Otago, and has since worked for companies throughout New Zealand and in the UK. The projected version of his web-based work Safe Places provides the title for the exhibition. Presenting us with an animated forest environment, in Endo’s world animals roam free, at one with humans, trees grow, the sun comes out, and the day passes in a kind of beautiful dream.

Artist and Designer Clem Devine is a recent graduate from Massey University’s College of Design, Fine Arts and Music, and is currently working as a graphic designer for local firm Eyework Design. In Safe Places he presents The 16th BMW Art Car, a photographic light box work which refers to BMW’s promotional Art Cars from the 1970s and 1980s. Revelling in a desire for fast cars and inserting himself without invitation into the canon of international art stars, Devine’s 16th BMW Art Car is unashamedly brash and youthfully optimistic.

A newcomer to Wellington and a recent graduate from Auckland University’s Elam School of Fine Arts, Safe Places is the first time Fiona Gillmore’s work has been shown in Wellington. Better Luck Next Time resembles a commercial lightbox which has been cast aside and abandoned, sitting on the floor on a pile of timber. Ironic, yet earnest, Gillmore tracks an urban landscape in the era of instant consumer culture.

The curator and the artists will give a free public floortalk on Thursday 9 October at 6pm.

Safe Places is presented within the 360 programme – a full perspective on Wellington art and design, which is generously sponsored by Designworks. Thanks also to Magnum Mac, Colourcraft and Publication & Design, Wellington City Council.