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May 5, 2008 | by  | in Visual Arts | [ssba]

Future Garden, a collaborative effort by Julian Bishop and Catherine Bagnall

The show Future Garden a collaborative effort by Julian Bishop and Catherine Bagnall, that opened on 29 March, is currently being held at the Suite Gallery.

The concept for the future garden appears to have developed as a response to Bishop and Bagnall moving into a their new house and primarily focus’s on the living room and garden. Without this understanding dialoguing with this exhibition takes a little while to occur as the various works at first fail to have any association and one could also be forgiven for thinking that more than two artists’ are present!

There is a red suit made from bird and anemone fabric designed by William Morris (1834-1896), an artist, writer and socialist associated with the British art movement the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Morris as also one of the founders of the British arts and crafts movement, hence the title of the work Conversation with William Morris.

The suit is placed on an oak mannequin with steel bed shoe fittings, which looks neat and allows the suit to be presented effectively. Patterns on the suit are beautiful and made up of a floral pattern design with birds outlined in gold.

This fabric by William Morris is utilised to bring some of the various works together and motifs and representations of this are sprinkled throughout the two rooms. The use of various woods also seeks to connect some of the works in the gallery together.

Another work using wood as its basis is a pair of hall chairs titled In the Shade of Mr Flicker, made from a pair of old 1930c oak and kauri drawers with the use of Bird and Anemone fabric for the cushions. The patterns on the back of chairs allude to the fabric with birds and flowers. Through being altered the objects have now become an artefact and as such an art work.

Other works that have a relationship to furniture in this space are another pair of oak chairs with reversible seats watercolour and original upholstery. There is also an oak dresser (circa 1930) with fabric lined drawers with an blue oil painting backing of a bird in a tree, alluding once again to the William Morris fabric. This work is rather tacky looking and appears weakest in the space. The different draw handles add to this.

There is a very cute oil painting titled Garden at night with a green tonal background with floral patterns and a figure walking (Catherine Bagnall?).

Related to this oil painting is a series of watercolours on paper numbered one to five . The works are quite lovely to engage with as the colours utilised are well balanced to create a nice harmony within the compositions. A figure appears throughout the works dressed in an animal outfit, probably a rabbit, but working drawing two may well indicate that it could be a rat, or possibly a Kangaroo in Working Drawing five!

The inclusion of the work Wake utilising native New Zealand to create nautical flags and also the work Fleets of 4 boats created with watercolour paper paint and then varnished do not sit well with the theme.

Basically taking old furniture, fashion and other works and endeavouring to construct an artist statement around it in order to have an exhibition in a gallery context dose not seem to be able to carry itself off in this instance. It is a loose concept with a lot of dangly bits, but the dangly bits at times are quite beautifully constructed, executed and presented. In other words forget the concept theme and enjoy the works.

The Suite gallery is situated along Constable Street in Newtown that was created by David Alsop and Susannah to make 19th – 21st century European fine art available for New Zealand collectors, but also includes local artists‘ such as Ans Westra, Arie Hellendoom, Fiona Pardington and Julian Bishop and Catherine Bagnall.

The exhibition runs until 30 April.


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