Media Release: September, 2004. 

Milky Way Bar’ is the third new Wellington artist show at City Gallery Wellington’s Michael Hirschfeld Gallery. Titled after Bill Manhire’s 1991 poem ‘Milky Way Bar’, the exhibition brings together eight fresh and dynamic young artists who “live at the edge of the universe/like everybody else.”

Featuring work by Marina Cains, Ryan Chadfield, Daniel du Bern, Regan Gentry, Kim Paton, Gregory Sharp, Marnie Slater and Louise Tulett, Milky Way Bar highlights the present moment: it’s about what these artists are making, thinking and communicating now.

Recently, the Wellington arts scene has entered a boom phase, with new exhibition spaces opening up, new arts projects being initiated, and new artists constantly emerging, fuelled in part by the establishment of the School of Fine Arts at Massey University’s Wellington campus. Milky Way Bar gives audiences an insight into how young artists are making their way in this rapidly expanding world.

Marnie Slater’s work evokes the tension felt by young artists when they are torn between wanting to be discovered and wanting to hide in the shadows. Slater has created a mini mountain with a step ladder and a white satin flag with the word ‘NOW’ embroidered on it. Will you seize the day by climbing up and snatching the flag, Slater asks, or will you be stuck at the bottom, doubting your ability to face up to the challenge?

Regan Gentry also explores the idea of being a new artist trying to break into the art world. In 2003 Gentry began his ‘Foot in the Door’ project by sending hundreds of letters to public and commercial art galleries and art-related institutions asking if he could install a one foot ruler or piece of measuring tape in their entrance way. Enterprising and audacious, the project literally enables Gentry to get a foot in the door at a range of institutions. At the Milky Way Bar’ opening, Gentry will insert a foot of measuring tape into the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery’s roller door, marking his entry into another gallery space, another scalp in his exhibiting history.

Martian Invaders in the Twilight Arcade

Thursday 30 September 2004 at 5.30pm

Join the artists in Milky Way Bar’ and Michael Hirschfeld Gallery curator Sarah Farrar for an informal floortalk in the gallery. Free entry, all welcome.

DesignWorks EIG are proud sponsors of the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery. Thanks also Colourcraft and Publication & Design, Wellington City Council. City Gallery Wellington is managed by the Wellington Museums Trust with major funding from the Wellington City Council.

Media Release: September, 2004. 

Revered in his homeland, Austrian architect Ernst Plischke (a contemporary of Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier) was a key figure in the introduction of modernism into New Zealand architecture and design. Plischke’s place in both New Zealand and European architecture is the subject of a new exhibition opening at City Gallery Wellington on 5 September 2004.

Born in Vienna in 1903, Plischke was the son of an architect, and worked in the family joinery business every summer. He trained in architecture at the Akademie der Bildenden Kunste (Academy of Fine Arts), Vienna, graduating in 1926. By the early 1930s Plischke had achieved great critical success in Vienna and beyond.

In 1939 however, Plischke and his Jewish wife Anna and her two children were forced to emigrate to escape the Nazi regime. Plischke’s International Modernist style and involvement with a worker housing project in Vienna were also viewed with suspicion by the German Reich.

Plischke and his family, like many other refugees from Nazi Germany, settled in Wellington, where he initially found work as a draughtsman with the newly formed Department of Housing Construction.

Plischke left the Department in 1948, and went on to design over 40 private houses in his adopted homeland. He also designed public housing, worked on community planning, and become a prominent voice within New Zealand culture through his writings and lectures. In 1947 Plischke became a New Zealand citizen. He continued to work here until 1963, when he returned to Vienna to become chair of architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts. Plischke died in Vienna in 1992.

City Gallery Wellington director Paula Savage says “Plischke is a larger-than-life figure in the history of New Zealand architecture. Not only did he design quintessential modernist buildings such as the Sutch House, he was involved in many areas of cultural life in Wellington.”

A radical international figure like Plischke was never going to fit easily into conservative war-time New Zealand society. Upon arrival in Wellington, he and Anna were given the nationality “German” and had to comply with the Aliens Emergency Regulations. The Plischke family was viewed with some suspicion – on one occasion, after lengths of steel tubes were observed being delivered to the Plischke’s home, Plischke had to provide photographs of his studio in Vienna to explain to police how he used steel tubing in his furniture. He was also viewed with some caution by the people he worked with. One former colleague at the Housing Department recalled that Plischke was thought by some to be a Bolshevik, on the basis of his “strange ideas”.

City Gallery Wellington has collaborated with two Viennese institutions, the Academy of Fine Arts and the Imperial Furniture Collection, to bring this exhibition to New Zealand. In 2003 the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, celebrated the centenary of Plischke’s birth with the exhibition ‘Ernst Plischke: Modern Architecture for the New World’. Paula Savage says “Exquisite watercolours and architectural drawings which were exhibited in Vienna last year are being brought out to New Zealand for this landmark exhibition. This will be an exciting experience not only for people interested in architecture but for anyone interested in modernism, design and the cultural history of Wellington.”

City Gallery Wellington’s exhibition ‘Ernst Plischke’ will bring attention to Plischke’s architectural legacy in Wellington, where the best examples of his mature work exist. Plischke’s influence on Wellington’s inner-city will be traced through displays devoted to the Dixon Street Flats and Massey House on Lambton Quay, buildings which were seen to herald the arrival of modernism in New Zealand.

Outstanding examples of Plischke’s domestic architecture in Wellington include the Sutch House in Brooklyn. This building, the largest and most innovative of Plischke’s New Zealand houses, is regarded as one of the best early examples of International Modernism in this country. The Sutch House was recently restored by Wellington architect Alistair Luke, and received the New Zealand Institute of Architects Resene Award for Enduring Architecture earlier this year. A feature of ‘Ernst Plischke’ will be a scale model of the Sutch House and a collection of archival material that tells the story of its construction.

‘Ernst Plischke’ includes over 100 original plans and drawings, vintage and contemporary photographs of Plischke buildings, furniture, architectural models, and books, correspondence and ephemera related to Plischke’s time in New Zealand. Material for the exhibition has been drawn from the archives and collections of the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, and from New Zealand collections.

A major Ernst Plischke monograph from Prestel Press is being translated in English in association with the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, and the Imperial Furniture Collection, Vienna, and will accompany the City Gallery Wellington exhibition.

A dynamic programme of lectures and floortalks will open out aspects of Plischke’s career. A keynote lecture series is scheduled, featuring talks by local and international architects and architectural historians. A tour of Plischke’s significant buildings in the Wellington region will be a special feature of the public events.

‘Ernst Plischke’ is presented by City Gallery Wellington and the New Zealand Institute of Architects in association with the Akademie der Bildenden Kunste (Academy of Fine Arts), Vienna, and the Kaiserliches Hofmobiliendepot (Imperial Furniture Collection), Vienna.

Proudly supported by Housing New Zealand Corporation

‘Ernst Plischke’ will be shown alongside the Dunedin Public Art Gallery touring exhibition ‘Ronnie van Hout: I’ve Abandoned Me’.

For more information, images and interview opportunities please contact:

Courtney Johnston, City Gallery Wellington Publicist

T: 04 801 3959 E: Courtney.johnston@wcc.govt.nz

Media Release: August, 2004. 

I’ve Abandoned Me samples the diverse practice of one of New Zealand’s liveliest and most irreverent artists: Ronnie van Hout. With scepticism and humour, van Hout engages with one of the central themes of contemporary art – ‘the construction of identity’.

A touring exhibition from the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, I’ve Abandoned Me explores van Hout’s career-long reckoning with self-portraiture. Since art school, van Hout has been making works that ask “What does it mean to be yourself?”, and using doppelgangers, stand-ins, sly substitutions and sight-gags in his investigation of this question. As exhibition curator Justin Paton says, “Ronnie van Hout is making an exhibition of himself.”

I’ve Abandoned Me brings together works from the full extent of van Hout’s practice: sculpture, photography, moving image, model-making and even the odd embroidery. There are paintings that mimic corny t-shirts, silver suits for extra-terrestrials, miniature model families, and everywhere the image of the artist – latex casts of van Hout’s head, video projections of his face, and manifestations of his alter-egos, Sculp D. Dog and Monkey Madness.

Van Hout’s major work, On the Run, was a feature piece of City Gallery Wellington’s recent survey show of contemporary New Zealand art, Telecom Prospect 2004: New Art New Zealand. Van Hout developed this interactive artwork in 2003-2004 when he was living in Wellington as the recipient of the Rita Angus Fellowship, a partnership between the Thorndon Trust, Massey University and City Gallery Wellington.

Van Hout has a significant exhibiting history in New Zealand. Over the past two decades, his work has featured in a number of major exhibitions, including Shadow of Style (1992), A Very Peculiar Practice (1995), Dream Collectors (1998) and Bright Paradise: The 1st Auckland Triennial at Auckland Art Gallery in 2001. He was recently announced as a finalist in New Zealand’s richest art award, The Walters Prize, to be announced in October.

Van Hout also has a rapidly growing international profile. In recent years his work has been shown in galleries throughout Australia, in Berlin and Kassel in Germany and in Los Angeles. With recent acquisitions by major American and Australian institutions, van Hout is consolidating his reputation in Australasia and the Pacific Rim.

Ronnie van Hout: I’ve Abandoned Me will be shown alongside the City Gallery Wellington exhibition Ernst Plischke, presented in association with Akademie der Bildenden Kunste (Academy of Fine Arts), Vienna and the Kaiserliches Hofmobiliendepot (Imperial Furniture Collection), Vienna, with the support of The New Zealand Institute of Architects and Housing New Zealand Corporation.

PRINCIPAL SPONSOR: TNS, providers of social and marketing research

Supported by: Creative New Zealand.

Media Release: August, 2004. 

An exhibition opening at the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery this weekend offers up a selection of work sure to tease, delight and intrigue gallery visitors.

Vanity Case brings together the work of nine Wellington artists and designers: Trevor Byron, Louise Clifton, Arlo Edwards, Martin F. Emond, Amelia Handscomb, Steph Lusted, Sarah Jane Parton and Kate Wyatt.

Although these nine artists work in a diverse range of media, from spray-paint to sculpture, they share common interests in notions of beauty, desire, love, loss and identity. Michael Hirschfeld Gallery Curator Sarah Farrar makes a comparison between these works and the tradition of vanitas paintings – heavily symbolic paintings that reflect on beauty, death, morality and the transience of human life.

Vanity Case is a unique chance to see the work of an exciting and diverse range of Wellington artists and designers,’ says Sarah. “The exhibition brings together everything from jeweller Trevor Byron’s bristly rings and cuff links to the street art of Mephisto Jones to Amelia Handscomb’s luscious photography.”

Vanity Case is an exhibition rich in symbolism, but also a very personal response to contemporary society,” Sarah says.

In Steph Lusted’s brooches, for example, butterfly and cicada specimens are tenderly preserved in silver casings, creating small and precious mementoes. Lusted is also showing small resin pieces in the shapes of crossbones and butterflies, symbols of death and danger and change and femininity respectively.

Also exploring the temporary nature of the world is Mephisto Jones, well-known in Wellington for his painting, stencil and illustration works around the city. Jones has created a new work for Vanity Case, bringing his street art into the gallery. Jones’ work, destined to be painted over at the end of the exhibition, acts like a calling card: I was here, remember me.

A photograph by Louise Clifton, titled Pantyhose is both bizarre and intriguing. Clifton says that she is interested in the shared attributes of “the attractive and the repulsive, the decadent and the obsessive”. Her photograph of a disembodied prosthetic leg dressed in pantyhose alludes to department store hosiery displays, at the same time calling to mind stories of people with foot fetishes who steal women’s stockings for perverse pleasure.

The Vanity Case artists and curator will discuss the exhibition in a public floortalk at 5.30pm on Wednesday 1 September. Entry to the floortalk is free 

Media Release: July, 2004. 

The Ice Rink and The Lilac Ship opens on July 11 at Massey University Wellington, the final venue of Telecom Prospect 2004: New Art New Zealand

Get your skates on – because for four weeks, Wellington is going to have an ice rink! Telecom Prospect 2004: New Art New Zealand is thrilled to present Wellington artist Maddie Leach's major exhibition project The Ice Rink and The Lilac Ship in the Great Hall at Massey University.

Leach’s work brings together the worlds of public and private recreation, and looks at the different ways that people relax and play. On the wall, there’s a DVD projection of a huge cruise ship, slowly sailing out of Wellington harbour – a glimpse of the private world of the rich and famous. On the floor, there’s an 18 metre long, fully-functioning ice rink. Skates are provided, and every visitor to the exhibition is invited to flaunt their skills (or lack of them!) on the ice. In this way, the Great Hall is temporarily transformed into an active space for visitors to play in. Curator of Telecom Prospect 2004, Emma Bugden, says that ‘Leach’s work functions on many levels, as a beautiful minimalist sculpture, as a Duchampian 'ready-made' – an object from everyday life brought into the gallery context – and as a community project, a gift from the artist to gallery visitors.’

The Ice Rink and The Lilac Ship was first shown in 2002 at the Waikato Museum of Art and History. City Gallery Wellington director Paula Savage says ‘We are delighted to be able to bring this major exhibition project to Wellington as part of Telecom Prospect 2004. It’s a chance to see a stunning work on a scale unprecedented in this country, and best of all, it’s a work that visitors can be part of.’

Built to order by refrigeration engineers from York New Zealand Ltd, ‘The Ice Rink’ is the end-product of four years of joint research between York and the artist. The project is powerful evidence of the possibilities that can arise from active collaboration between artists and industry.

The Ice Rink and The Lilac Ship also marks the return of the Old Museum Building to its original use. Opened in 1936, the Old Museum Building was home to the National Art Gallery and Dominion Museum for 60 years. Since refurbishments were completed in 2001, the Old Museum Building has housed Massey University’s College of Design, Fine Arts and Music.

Telecom Prospect 2004: New Art New Zealand

Maddie Leach The Ice Rink and The Lilac Ship

Massey University: the Great Hall of the Old Museum, Buckle Street

11 July – 8 August

Open Tuesday – Sunday, 10am – 4pm, closed Mondays. Free Admission

Media Release: July, 2004. 

An exhibition of work by three Wellington photographers who capture the extraordinary in the everyday opens this week at the Hirschfeld Gallery at City Gallery Wellington.

Hat trick! brings together the work of three Wellington photographers: Victoria Birkinshaw, Anne Noble and Andy Morley-Hall. Each of these photographers documents the world around them in a way which seizes our imagination and sparks our curiosity. They conjure up the drama and spectacle of everyday moments.

Emerging artist Victoria Birkinshaw presents a series of photographs which document the Webber Bros Circus’ tour of Kapiti Coast, Upper Hutt and Lower Hutt in 2003. Birkinshaw has a long-standing fascination with the circus: “Running away and joining the circus has always been up there with running off to a tropical island for me, especially midway through a Wellington winter.” Birkinshaw’s photographs, however, present the reality behind the glamour of the Big Top: there are scenes of drama and excitement, but also images of the hard work of installing and packing down equipment. It is an economic reality, says Birkinshaw, that in New Zealand performers also double as crew.

Established Wellington photographer Anne Noble is represented by one work in Hat trick!, a lush and massive image from her ‘Ruby’s Room’ series. In this series, Noble has documented her daughter Ruby’s exploration of the physical world by way of placing objects in her mouth. For Noble, photographs like the one included in ‘Hat trick!’ “celebrate and magnify moments of growing up that are not normally celebrated”. Here, Ruby’s mouth is stretched and contorted with a set of false teeth made from fruit peel – a very ordinary scenario which when photographed and blown up becomes wildly, ridiculously dramatic.

A street photographer for several years now, Andy Morley-Hall rarely leaves home without his camera. Morley-Hall captures slice-of-life images as he goes about town – his photographs in Hat trick! include familiar settings such as Frank Kitts Park and Courtenay Place. Also included in Hat trick! are photographs Morley-Hall took over the summer of 2003-2004 he travelled with the organisers of the Whopper Chopper Seaside Extravaganza as they toured New Zealand. Morley-Hall isn’t interested in sensationalism and his photographs are understated. “They are the kinds of things each of us sees everyday,” says Morley-Hall, “the only difference is that I try and capture that moment.”

Artists’ talk: 5.30pm Wednesday 21 July 2004, City Gallery Wellington

Biographical information:

Victoria Birkinshaw was born in Yorkshire, England in 1978. She has a Diploma in Photography and has studied photography at Wellington Polytechnic and Massey University. Birkinshaw’s recent exhibitions include a solo exhibition ‘The Speedway’ at Expressions Art and Entertainment Centre, Upper Hutt. ‘The Circus’ photographs were included in a recent issue of STAPLE magazine.

Anne Noble was born in Wanganui in 1954. She is widely recognised as one of New Zealand’s leading photographers and a major retrospective of her work, ‘States of Grace’, toured the country in 2001-2003. Noble teaches photography at Massey University, Wellington.

Andy Morley-Hall was born in Portsmouth, England in 1967. He has recently returned to New Zealand after spending fifteen years in the UK. He studied at the London College of Printing and has a Post Graduate Diploma in Photojournalism. His recent exhibitions include a solo show, ‘Please Do Not Feed’, at Wellington’s Photospace gallery.

Hat trick! 

Victoria Birkinshaw, Anne Noble & Andy Morley-Hall

10 July – 12 August 2004

Michael Hirschfeld Gallery, City Gallery Wellington

Media Release: June, 2004. 

A performance by Sean Kerr and 20 members of the public on a computer orchestra, as part of Telecom Prospect 2004: New Art New Zealand

Sean Kerr offers visitors a unique opportunity to give their computer a break from school assignments and budgeting programmes by making it part of an electronic orchestra at City Gallery Wellington on Saturday 26 June at 3pm.

Sean Kerr has always been interested in allowing audiences to interact with his work. On previous occasions, visitors have been made part of his works, triggering imaginary bullets when they enter a gallery, or ‘driving’ birds around a digitised Don Binney painting.

For Telecom Prospect 2004: New Art New Zealand Kerr has concocted ‘Music 4 20 Computers’. Members of the public are invited to bring their Mac or home PC to City Gallery this Saturday. Kerr will load a basic sound programme onto these computers and then conduct the computer orchestra, playing a composition he has written for the occasion.

Emma Bugden, curator of Telecom Prospect 2004, says this work “brings art, music and technology together in one enthusiastic gesture, connecting directly with a community of computer users.”

Participants need only a computer and enthusiasm – no musical experience is required. 

Sean Kerr’s performance ‘Music 4 20 Computers’ is presented as part of Telecom Prospect 2004: New Art New Zealand, City Gallery Wellington’s survey show of the freshest, most innovative artwork currently being produced in New Zealand. Curated by Emma Bugden Telecom Prospect 2004 takes a look at the artists who have made, or are likely to make, an impact on the thinking and identity of our time.

Telecom Prospect 2004: New Art New Zealand

City Gallery Wellington

Media Release: June, 2004. 

Imagine an idyllic world filled with ballerinas, birds, moneys, horses and flowers, where the sun always shines and people dance all day. Welcome to the joyful world of seventy-eight year old Wellington artist Sue Soo.

Cry for the Moon at the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery, 4 June – 4 July, brings together a wide selection of Sue Soo’s artworks and provides an insight into her compulsive, impassioned and vibrant art-making.

Working in a small unit in suburban Wellington, Sue’s Soo’s home doubles as her studio – it’s full of the things she has made – papier maché roosters, plaster of paris ballerinas, crocheted flowers, rugs and cushions, colourful pictures pinned from floor to ceiling. She paints on all sorts of materials including rice sacks, cardboard boxes, canvas and card, and finds inspiration in other artworks, books, newspapers and magazines.

Art historian Jill Trevelyan has been following Sue Soo’s work since some paintings which she saw displayed in the window of Soo’s Kilbirnie flat caught her eye three years ago.

“Initially I was attracted by the colour and exuberance of her art,” Trevelyan says. “Sue has a great sense of colour and there’s a real energy in her paintings. When I saw more of her work I realised that she’s created an entire world of her own in her pictures.” Trevelyan describes Soo’s work as in intriguing blend of East-meets-West.

Sue Soo began painting in 1981 after the death of her husband. A great believer in keeping herself occupied to stave off loneliness, Soo says, “When you paint you forget your loneliness. You can cry for the moon but the moon won’t come down. You have to have something to do, then you forget yourself.”

While Soo goes through phases of painting different subjects, it’s the scenes of ballerinas that she always comes back to. These dancers embody a joyful celebration of life much like the youthful, energetic seventy-eight year old who paints them. Soo insists that anyone can paint, if they only try. “Any dumb cluck can do it,” she says!

Last year Soo’s artworks were shown in several exhibitions including The Dance of Life at One Eye Gallery in Paekakariki, The Outsiders held at the Sarjeant Gallery in Wanganui and exhibitions at ROAR! Gallery in Wellington.

Sue Soo was born in China in 1926 in Pong Woo village, Poon Yue. She came to New Zealand as a war refugee in 1940 with her mother and brother, staying with relatives in Taranaki Street. In 1946 she married Ken Soo and moved to Levin where the couple had a market garden. They returned to Wellington in 1979 following Mr Soo's illness. She has five children, thirteen grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. (Sue Soo’s biographical details are taken from Kirsten Wong, ‘The Dance of Life’, Wellington Chinese Association Newsletter, July 2003.)


Tutus and roosters: The world of Sue Soo

Thursday 17 June 5.30pm, City Gallery Wellington

Media Release: May, 2004. 

Once again City Gallery Wellington is bringing the hottest contemporary art in the world to New Zealand.

Global art phenomenon and media celebrity Tracey Emin’s exhibition Fear, War and The Scream will be on show for New Zealand audiences from 30 May – 22 August 2004. The exhibition is the first solo showing of Tracey Emin’s work in this country.

Emin came to international attention in 1997 with the inclusion of her work Everyone I Have Ever Slept With (1963-1995) in the major international touring exhibition Sensation: Young British Artists. In 1999 she was short-listed for the Tate Gallery’s Turner Prize, Britain’s most prestigious contemporary art award.

Hailed as the most prominent artist of her generation and the best-known living artist in the United Kingdom, Emin has never shied away from controversy. She produces art which is confronting and autobiographical, unflinchingly honest and often provocative.

Tracey Emin’s artworks are confessional; exposing her hopes, fears and humiliations in an extremely frank and direct manner. Her work is a direct manifestation of her personality – a noisy collision of passion, vulnerability, promiscuity, fragility, anguish and extraordinary humanity.

Fear War and The Scream includes new work relating to the Iraq War as well as some selected earlier pieces. Emin describes the exhibition as “a collection of paintings, monoprints, sculptures and video made over the past year and a half which concentrates on the aggression of fear and how fear can push us into actions which we often regret.” Emin says that “even though some of these works are very personal I feel they will translate into a grander language."

Paula Savage, Director of City Gallery Wellington says “Tracey Emin is the most exciting and arresting manifestation of BritArt. This is a special opportunity for Wellingtonian’s to see the work of an artist who has taken the world by storm.”

Born in London in 1963, Emin was brought up in Margate, Kent. She attended the Royal College of Art where she gained a Masters of Arts in Painting in 1989. She had her first solo exhibition in 1994 and since then has been included in major exhibitions of contemporary art internationally.

She has also had numerous solo exhibitions. Her work is included in major collections worldwide, including Tate Gallery, London; British Museum; Pompidou Centre, Paris; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; and Saatchi Collection, London. The major exhibition Ten Years. Tracey Emin followed Colin McCahon: A Question of Faith at the Stedeljk Museum, Amsterdam, in 2002.

Fear, War and The Scream features recent work by the artist and is toured by the RoslynOxley9 Gallery, Sydney. City Gallery Wellington is managed by The Wellington Museums Trust with major funding support from Wellington City Council.

Media Release: April, 2004. 

An exhibition which touches on issues such as genetic engineering, genetic modification, battery farming and animal welfare opens this week in the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery at City Gallery Wellington.

Wellington artist Jenny Gillam’s exhibition Another Green World takes a look at these topical issues with refreshing lightness and sincerity.

Deliberately kitsch, nostalgic and cute, the exhibition includes images of taxidermied lambs, bunnies and Scottie dogs. While these have instant appeal they also alert us to the way in which we perceive and represent nature through photographic images.

Sourced from New Zealand, Australia and Tokyo, and then reinterpreted and digitally altered, the images in Another Green World reflect on the role of nature in our everyday lives. Gillam draws our attention to the ways in which we experience nature on a daily basis through animals, toys, food, hobbies, gardens and parks.

“In Western culture our sense of nature is so domesticated, controlled, or several steps removed from ourselves,” says Gillam.

“When an issue is as politicised as GE is at the moment, it may be that the debate becomes more about politics and the everyday realities are lost.”

Gillam points out, that although “human manipulation of nature and animals is definitely a theme in Another Green World it is not to be read completely negatively. We gain a lot of enjoyment from these interactions and manipulations,” she says.

For example, the breeding of the Scottish terriers that appear in one of the three video works is dependant on human intervention (they must be born by Caesarian section); yet they remain a very popular choice among pet owners, including Gillam’s family.

Many of the images in the exhibition images appear kitsch and somewhat old fashioned, an effect deliberately created by Gillam, who believes that the nostalgia allows the fondness for her subjects to become evident.

Gillam is not trying to create a fantasy or an ideal past; nor is she interested in forcing viewers to critically examine the past for errors and lapses of judgment. Instead, through re-presenting these images in ways that engage and delight, as well as inform, Gillam encourages us to re-examine the ways in which we experience nature in our own lives.

Jenny Gillam was born in Hawkes Bay in 1967. She studied at Carrington Polytechnic where she gained an Advanced Certificate in Professional Photography in 1993 and later at The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology where she gained a Master of Fine Arts in 1999. She currently lives and works in Wellington. As well as being a lecturer in the School of Fine Arts at Massey University, she is a co-director of the new artist-run project space SHOW.

ARTIST’S TALK – Another Green Fantasy? Jenny Gillam in conversation with Aaron Kreisler. Thursday 13 May, 6pm. Free entry.

Another Green World is presented within the 360 programme – a full perspective on Wellington art and design, which is generously sponsored by Designworks. Thanks also to Colourcraft and Publication & Design, Wellington City Council and Massey University. City Gallery Wellington is managed by the Wellington Museums Trust with major funding from the Wellington City Council.