Artists create heaven & hell at exhibition

Jan Gosling, State of Mind


Artists wrestle with what is heaven and hell at Waikato’s largest outdoor sculpture exhibition ‘Utopia into Dystopia’ opening this month. SUMMER: Utopia into Dystopia opened to the public at a gala fundraising evening for Save the Children Waikato at The Sculpture Park @ Waitakaruru Arboretum, near Hamilton, on the evening of Saturday 01 December 2012. SUMMER showcases the work of 27 emerging and established artists’ and groups of artists from New Zealand and Australia, including Phil Bonham (Auckland), Gaye Jurisich (Hamilton) and Brad Lay (Adelaide), canvasing their unique and startling responses to what they think constitutes heaven and hell on earth. Highly regarded exhibition curator Claire Ulenberg, who has worked in New Zealand and overseas, says “It has been exciting to watch as tensions have emerged from the work as a result of the artists’ explorations of the disparity between the real and the ideal: between an imagined paradise and our earthly reality.” For exhibiting artist Helen Reynolds “Utopia is new products in shiny packaging, and the other side to this is dystopia, which emerges when, brought to earth and into the home – the new loses its shine and becomes junk”. Reynolds’ work ‘White Cloud /Black Mist’ makes a bold statement about consumption and commerce by looking at the disparity between the imagined utopia and the damaging effects of modern life on the physical world. Ulenberg says “Utopia is the formulation of thinking outside the present time, of envisaging the impossible, the ultimate goal. This is the artists’ role – to move outside the mundane and every day and to imagine, to have vision and create, to make spaces”. We sometimes forget our connection to nature and ourselves when immersed in modern society; the age of instant information and overstimulation. Not so at SUMMER, where the tangible and the ephemeral trumps the manufactured world, and reality gives way to imagination and escapism. The theme of SUMMER is reflected in the changing environment of Waitakaruru Park itself – a once barren and disused quarry that has since been transformed into a garden paradise; the ultimate metaphor for dystopia becoming utopia. The expansive space of the Park has been the perfect site for artists to be inspired by the surrounding natural beauty and to utilise the specific history of the site as a springboard for ideas from which to create. SUMMER: Utopia into Dystopia runs until 17 March 2013; exhibition curator Claire Ulenberg gives an insight into the work and practice of participating artists when she gives a public talk at The Sculpture Park on Sunday 02 December 2012, at 11am. SUMMER is kindly supported by Creative Communities and Waikato District Council. The Waikato Sculpture Trust facilitates innovative sculpture exhibitions at The Sculpture Park and each curator brings his or her own particular vision to the task. The Trust creates three curated exhibitions every year, two of which encompass the entire site, with at least 40 new works in each of the two major seasonal shows. At any time over 60 sculptures are to be seen within the Park. Each sculpture and installation is placed to fit this truly beautiful setting. Sculptures exhibited are available for sale and the commission received by the Trust helps fund forthcoming exhibitions. CLAIRE ULENBERG & EXHIBITING ARTISTS ARE AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEW/PHOTOGRAPHS OF WORKS EXHIBITED ARE AVAILABLE ON REQUEST NOTES TO EDITORS: Claire Ulenberg holds an MA Art Curatorship degree from the University of Melbourne and a Post-Graduate – Honours, Art History, Theory and Museum Studies degree from the University of Auckland. She has worked as a curator in many galleries in both Melbourne and Auckland, and is currently the gallery Manager for FHE Galleries in Auckland and advises on commissions for private businesses and collectors. The Sculpture Park @ Waitakaruru Arboretum works closely with The Waikato Sculpture Trust, to provide a venue that is uniquely suitable for sculpture exhibitions. The Park has been the site for more than 20 sculpture exhibitions since it opened to the public in November 2004. The sculpture exhibitions in the Park are organised by the Trust Board. ENDS

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Written by

Sarah Thornton

5 Dec 2012