Make a big difference to The Big Idea.

Help us tell the most creative stories.

Become a supporter

× Sorry, this event has been and gone! Visit our EVENTS section to see what's coming up.

Elizabeth Thomson | Cellular Memory

15 Aug 2021 to 24 Oct 2021
open daily 10am - 4pm, Wednesday 10am - 7pm
One of Aotearoa's leading artists returns to Ashburton with her outstanding exhibition Cellular Memory
Event type: 
no charge
Ashburton Art Gallery
327 West Street Ashburton


For over 30 years, Wellington-based sculptor/installation artist Elizabeth Thomson has been drawn to areas of scientific knowledge such as botany, micro-biology, oceanography and mathematics. With images and concepts from those fields as her starting point, Thomson’s works take flight. They impart a sense of mystery, beauty and the sheer exhilaration of being alive in a universe which is itself living, sentient and ever-responsive. The works in Cellular Memory attest to a career-long commitment to grappling with both natural history and the human condition, fuelled by poetic imagination as well as by much research, field-work and long hours in the studio.

The result is a body of work which asks some fundamental questions: How does humanity fit within the broader realm of nature? To what extent are we a part of, or distinct from, our environment? And how might the human imagination engage with the field of scientific knowledge?

In tandem with the much-celebrated touring exhibition Cellular Memory, the Gallery is thrilled to be presenting Lateral Theories, a remarkable and dramatic new suite of works by Elizabeth Thomson.

Just as the works in Cellular Memory range widely through the cupboards and corridors of natural history and the outer reaches of nature itself, Thomson’s exo-planets — which measure up to two metres in diameter — are a wildly inventive, wide-ranging and breath-taking exploration of life and the life-force. In these works, many of which have never been exhibited publicly before, we encounter a world which can be enchanting, inspiring and dazzling — yet which is also full of risk and portent. In Lateral Theories, we witness a contemporary artist testing her own limits — conceptually and in terms of her materials — and moving into uncharted, hitherto unimaginable territories.

Born in Auckland in 1955, Elizabeth Thomson is one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s leading artists. Since graduating with an MFA from Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, in 1988, she has exhibited widely throughout New Zealand and abroad. Her installations, sculptures and prints are included in major public collections throughout New Zealand.

Exhibition opening | 14 August 2021 | 6 pm
Exhibition available | 15 August – 24 October
Artist talk | 12 September | 2 pm

This exhibition is curated by Gregory O’Brien and presented with the support of Creative New Zealand and the Ashburton Creative Communities Grant.

Written by

Ashburton Art Gallery

7 Aug 2021