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Light enough to read by: Fiona Connor, Lucy Skaer, Rachel Shearer and Cathy Livermore

Image: Microwave/mailbox from the Isle of Lewis, Scotland, shared during research correspondence, 2021. Photo: Lucy Skaer.
11 Jun 2021 to 25 Jul 2021
Tues – Fri 11am – 5pm Sat & Sun 11am – 4pm
An exhibition that emerged from discussions around the return of The Physics Room’s library to the gallery
Event type: 
Art, Exhibition, Literature
The Physics Room Contemporary Art Space
301 Montreal Street The Arts Centre Registry Additions Building (access from The Arts Centre Market Square) Christchurch 8013
National, Canterbury


Exhibition preview: Thursday 10 June, 5:30pm
Exhibition runs: 11 June – 25 July 2021
Artist talk with Rachel Shearer: Saturday 12 June, 1pm

Light enough to read by
Fiona Connor, Lucy Skaer, Rachel Shearer and Cathy Livermore

Exhibition preview: Thursday 10 June, 5:30pm
Exhibition runs: 11 June – 25 July 2021
Artist talk with Rachel Shearer: Saturday 12 June, 1pm

Light enough to read by emerged from discussions around the return of The Physics Room’s library into the gallery and to public access. For the last year and a half, since the shift to our current site in the Registry Additions Building, much of the library has sat in boxes. The specific needs of this shift—sufficient and natural light, space for reading, listening, and resting—offered a script for us to work with in the development of this project. Underpinning this was the idea of the exhibition itself as a form of publication, and ‘text’ as something social, material, and lived, subject to conditions of light and weather.

Works by Connor, Skaer, Shearer and Livermore open out from these ideas, transforming the gallery. A metal hare runs, runs, low to the ground, across the wood floor; daylight comes in again and the workshop doorway is open; the gallery breathes like a lung with the names of Waitaha’s winds. Each of these works rely on dynamic relationships: with grammar and syntax, ko ngā hau me ngā wai (winds and waters), architecture and light, positive and negative, chase and flight, oxygen and lungs, reader and listener, fabricator and artist, correspondent and recipient, sequence and rest.

While each relates to narrative, none of the works in Light enough to read by rely on writing itself. A current of questions runs through the exhibition instead. If written words are not the dominant vehicle for information, what other material languages, voices, histories, and relationships can be held in the gallery space? How might the site generate alternative forms of reading, not contingent on words on a page, rather on conditions including light, relationships, oral and material narratives? The works might be received as a series of speculative responses to these questions.

Alongside the exhibition, the library too is recognised as a living form: incomplete, idiosyncratic, implicated in institutional and community politics, responsive to its environment. A library is a physical experience, sometimes, a social one, a space to research, or to rest. It is with these intentions that the gallery’s library space will remain and continue to operate after this exhibition ends.

Light enough to read by is curated by Abby Cunnane, Michelle Wang, and Hamish Petersen.

This exhibition was made possible through the generous support of the Jan Warburton Trust. With thanks also to Ilam School of Fine Arts for their support.


To celebrate the return of our library we have partnered with Infinite Definite to launch three limited edition tote bags. Each tote bag features a quote from past issues of our publication HAMSTER Magazine, by Casey Mazer Larkin Carsel, Jessica Maclean, and Vanessa Crofskey. The totes are designed by Daniel Shaskey and Holly Maitland and printed by Against The Grain Screenprint & Design in an edition of 50.

Tote bags can be purchased from either The Physics Room or Infinite Definite for $35 each.


Fiona Connor was born in Tāmaki Makaurau; she lives and works in Los Angeles. Connor received a Bachelor of Fine Arts through Elam School of Fine Arts and her Masters in Fine Arts through California Institute of the Arts in 2011. Recent solo exhibitions include New Low (Rampart), New Low, Los Angeles (2020); Closed for installation, Fiona Connor, SculptureCenter, #4, Sculpture Centre, New York (2019); #8, Closed for installation, Sequence of events, Succession, Vienna (2019); Object Classrooms, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth (2018); Closed Down Clubs, MAK Centre for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles (2018); Community Noticeboard and Monochromes, Stuart Shave Modern Art, London (2018); and Colour Census, 1301PE, Los Angeles (2017). In 2015 Connor founded Laurel Doody Library Supply, an ongoing initiative to support artists publishing on a small scale.

Lucy Skaer lives and works in Glasgow and London. She graduated from the Glasgow School of Art with a Bachelor of Fine Art in 1997. In 2009, Skaer was a Turner Prize finalist, and in 2007 represented Scotland at the 52nd Venice Biennale. Recent solo exhibitions include Rural Works, GRIMM, Amsterdam (2021); Forest on Fire, Bloomberg SPACE, London (2020); Future Sun, S.M.A.K., Ghent; Day Divider, Meessen De Clerq, Brussels (2019); Heavy Weather, with works by Carol Rhodes & Hanneline Visnes, GRIMM, Amsterdam (2018); The Green Man, Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh (2018); and Sentiment, Peter Freeman Inc., New York (2018). This year Skaer will participate in the Watou Arts Festival, Watou, Belgium, and she has been selected as a 2021 Chinati Artist in Residence, in Marfa, Texas.

Rachel Shearer (Pākehā, Rongowhakaata, Te Aitanga a Māhaki) is a sound artist and sound designer based in Tāmaki Makaurau. Shearer has previously released music on labels including Xpressway and Corpus Hermeticum, Ecstatic Peace and Family Vineyard. Shearer currently investigates sound as a medium through a range of sonic practices—installations, composing, recording as well as collaborating as a sound designer or composer for moving image and live performance events. Te Oro o te Ao: The Resounding of the World, Shearer’s PHD thesis (AUT, 2018) culminated in a sound installation, one part of which, Waha, was made in collaboration with Cathy Livermore, with whom she again collaborates on this project.

Cathy Livermore (Waitaha, Kāti Māmoe, Kāi Tahu, English, Irish and Scandinavian) is an artist, educator, activist and healer. Livermore has spent the past 20 years performing, choreographing and teaching nationally and internationally. As an educator, she has developed pedagogies incorporating Kaupapa Māori and Pasifika worldviews within tertiary institutional environments for performing arts in Aotearoa. She has also developed Mauritau, practices of mindfulness in Te Ao Māori. Her art practice, centred in dance, performativity and embodiment, has evolved to focus on new media technologies, and is informed by intercultural spaces of collaboration. Livermore is an independent artist and has also performed with Atamira Dance Company, Body Cartography, Vospertron, Ivy Granite Productions, Oceania Dance Theatre, Red Leap Physical Theatre, Belgian choreographer Hans Van den Broeck, French Company GROUP F, Native American Contemporary Dance company Dancing Earth and Louise Pōtiki Bryant.


Image: Microwave/mailbox from the Isle of Lewis, Scotland, shared during research correspondence, 2021. Photo: Lucy Skaer.

Written by

The Physics Room

27 May 2021

Interests The Physics Room exists to act as a catalyst for the development and promotion of ideas and debate through art.