New year, new works, new artists: the first group show of 2014 brings together a diverse selection of artworks from familiar and unfamiliar names. Michael Hight, Christine Thacker and Bridie Henderson are represented alongside painter Zena Elliott and ceramist Mark Mitchell both of whom have recently joined Milford Galleries Dunedin.
Most well-known for his hyper-real beehive paintings, this time around Michael Hight’s ‘night paintings’ are on display. He combines elements of landscape and still life to produce surreal, thought-provoking tableaux. The wooden hives and corrugated iron of Hikurangi allude to the rural vernacular of Hight’s more familiar works, but these finely observed individual elements are combined in an unexpected manner in an unexpected setting to create a whole where nothing is as it seems.
Waikato-based Elliott is interested in exploring the low art/high art divide; her paintings incorporate street art elements as well as speaking to her personal whakapapa and questions of personal/global identities. Her use of abstract patterning creates depth and space, and the overlay of holographic automotive paint distorts the surface plane.
Accented with gold leaf, black and yellow serpentine lines reinforce the scale of Mark Mitchell’s voluminous ceramic vessels. As the lines flow over the surface of the works, the optical illusion of movement is further emphasised by the elegant imperfection of form. Slightly off-centre and finished on the inside with a delicate, crackled glaze, the hand of the maker is obvious in these sculptural ceramics.
Christine Thacker’s latest jug forms also reveal the craft of the making. The rounded, organic shapes of the coil-built vessels celebrate the clay medium and possess an inviting tactility. Thacker’s painterly decoration encompasses the figurative as well as abstract patterning and the muted, charcoal tones possess depth under the heavy gloss of the glaze.
Displayed in their custom-made oak cases, Bridie Henderson’s feather necklace works take on an aura of museum artefacts. When illuminated, the necklaces glow with a ghostly translucence, hinting at unknown wearers and histories. The gold highlights adorning the feathers accentuate the fragility and delicacy of the hand-carved porcelain and Henderson’s attention to detail is meticulous.