City Gallery

Past exhibition

Smoke Signal

17 March–17 April 2006

ARTISTS Murray Hewitt, Gavin Hipkins, Terry Urbahn CURATOR Sarah Farrar  

Three Wellington artists eschew the New Zealand landscape’s clean, green image, instead offering sinister takes on ‘the great outdoors’.

Murray Hewitt’s installation Burnings (2005) documents a ritual in which rugby goal posts are set alight by a figure in a white hooded gown. This ‘pseudo–Ku Klux Klan burning’ refers to the habit of lighting symbolic structures to assert a collective identity.

Gavin Hipkins writes: ‘When we think of the New Age, aromatic wafts of smoke from burning incense tingle our nostrils.’ In his New Age photos (1992–2003), moody landscapes are overlaid with ghostly traces of curling lace and strings of beads.

In Terry Urbahn’s Twin Peaks (Revisited) (2005–6), twigs extend from two fecund white-plaster lumps. These unexplained witchy forms rest on speaker boxes, issuing jarring guitar music. In a photo, the artist is presented with his creations—sitting cross-legged, complete with aviator shades, a hippieish wig, and mo—as if channelling some mystic force.