City Gallery

Past exhibition

Shifting Ground: Six Wellington Artists

26 January–16 April 1989

ARTISTS Chris Cane, Derek Cowie, Barnard McIntyre, Jane Pountney, Diane Prince, Ruth Watson CURATOR Gregory Burke

Shifting Ground introduces six emerging Wellington-based artists.

Chris Cane’s large works on paper combine collage, painting, and drawing. Many feature Rorschach-like blots, hinting at a psychological dimension. There are also allusions to nation and identity. Derek Cowie mixes science-fiction and surrealism to elaborate a complex but unfathomable personal symbolism. His large canvases featuring cyborgs and monstrous mutating bodies often have cryptic-suggestive titles.

Barnard McIntyre makes sculptures and works on paper. His sculptures present basic minimalist forms in formica, with its faux surfaces. His works on paper—crayon drawings and collages of coloured vinyl—suggest plans for future sculptures. Jane Pountney’s dark landscapes in oil and charcoal conjure a postmodern sublime with a gothic edge. Diane Prince's structures represent Māori weaving houses, spaces traditionally designated for women, but include references to the natural environment, urban experience, and cross-cultural encounter.

Ruth Watson explores the politics and psychology of maps. Her primitivist shield-shaped A Map of the Dark Continent (1988) links feminist central-core imagery to the gore shape used by cartographers to render the round Earth on a flat surface, and links the supposed unknowability of Africa to the supposed unknowability of the woman. Another Map of the World (1988) repositions New Zealand from the margins to the centre of the world.

In the Weekend Review, Ian Wedde describes the show as ‘a regional critique of mainstream assumptions … [it] best conveys the actual shifting grounds from a regional terrain or recognisable school to a ground of discourse: not where you are, but where you’re at’.