Comet Project Space was conceptualised by Bobbie Gray who was in her final year at Whitecliffe College of Art and Design and recognised the potential of her unique residence in the heart of Tāmaki Makaurau. The gallery itself was a labour of love developed by three emerging creative professionals; Bobbie Gray, Alicia Taylor and Zara Garlick.
Launching July 2018, Comet provided both traditional and non traditional spaces for the exploration of creativity in all forms. A cleverly refurbished garage at the heart of the space offered a traditional ‘white cube’ gallery, with sprawling outdoor spaces enticing innovation and experimentation.
Rather than just putting on traditional gallery openings, the team had a desire to create social situations where people can meet each other. The idea was to create a space where people had an equal opportunity to work collaboratively and generate connections with other creatives.
When Auckland was locked down due to Covid-19, Bobbie converted the gallery space into her own artist studio and sought new ways to connect and collaborate with other artists. An open call drew more than twenty artists, who worked remotely during lockdown to produce 500 unique blooms made from plastic recyclables to create an immersive multi-sensory installation Inflorescence. Led by artists Bobbie Gray, Lara Thomas and Jesse Watson the flowers were fitted with programmable LEDs and debuted at Artweek Auckland 2020 and featured a live handpan soundscape by Alive Metal.
The team continue to work together under the name Comet Collab to create work that highlights both the natural environment and sustainability and create community events in under-utilised local parks based around their light installations. Comet continues to champion the exchange of ideas and act as a platform where our creative communities can collide and evolve.
Bobbie Gray is an Auckland-based artist whose work is founded in a range of disciplines including sculpture, moving image, painting, installation, curation and project development. Her practice explores our innate connection between people and the natural environment. Bobbie established Comet Collab as a way to connect with other artists and create large scale installations that she would not be able to achieve on her own.
Lara Thomas is a multidisciplinary artist whose work spans print, ceramics and sculptural installation. Through her work Lara aims to encourage viewers to connect with the natural environment and to consider their own relationship with it. Her practice is underpinned by a love of nature and a commitment to living and creating more sustainably. Lara has been exhibiting her work since 2013 and also works as an art educator and curator.
Jesse Watson is a visual artist whose painted compositions resemble musical arrangements in which graphic elements and gestural marks converge into a single rhythmic accord. Loaded with vibrantly coloured forms and layered with grid-like patterns, the works act as soundscapes and encourage viewers to ‘listen’ with their eyes. Recently Jesse has also branched out into light-based installation.