Artists: Klae Brown, Darryl Chin, Sena Park, Tabitha Cornelia, Rose Meyer, Bobbie Gray, Sarah Walker-Holt, Anieszka Banks, Cam Edward, Natasha Wong, Ellen Mekkelholt, Isabella Young, Rose Northey, Isobel Gledhill, Chippy Draws, Pauls Friis, Rhys Collier.
The 1st of March; a warm, summery Friday evening, a time of celebration, exploration, and potential for so many Aucklanders week after week. The garage door is open, the wine is poured, and the music is playing, people file down the driveway in their cubicle-to-club garb. This is not your rough and ready house party, however, but an exhibition of specially commissioned work, an invitation to play and share and celebrate in the delicious diversity of art.
OFFCUT was born from the very fabric of Comet Project Space; a small yet powerful gallery in the heart of Ponsonby run by directors Bobbie Gray and Alicia Taylor, that has challenged the traditional and celebrated collaboration from day one. In the spirit of pulling upcoming creatives into its ever-growing orbit, 19 local artists were selected to incorporate a piece of MDF board, salvaged from the renovations undertaken to construct Comet Project Space, and incorporate it into a new piece. Once again bucking trends, these works were not for public sale, but were swapped between the participating artists after the show.
How I wish I was a participating artist.
Beautifully lit and hung with stunning precision, the works born from this concept were an absolute delight, and were celebrated as such. From Paula Friis’ Thought Form #22, an ‘exploration of the sub-conscious’ based on automatic drawing highlighted in embroidered blocks of colour, to Rose Northey’s daringly relatable love letter to art, engineering, and poetry in Salt and Vinegar and Shame with Edison Bulb, the sheer variety of media, influences, and concepts was dazzling, and incredibly exciting. Deftly avoiding an unhindered cacophony of material, the plain white walls of the space, along with providing each artist with a piece of MDF of the same size, allowed each piece to shine individually, while also contributing to an interesting peek into the influences, and future influencers, of Auckland’s emerging art scene.
The natural played against the precise, with Rhys Collier’s fascinatingly amorphous expanding foam sculptural piece guiding us through the uncontrolled and unknown just metres away from the intricately layered Anchored here where you are by Rose Meyer, a beautifully constructed piece of overlayed marine, topographic, and motion maps of the Auckland area, including the location of Comet, painted with ink and ocean water from the closest bay.
The changing faces of home also emerged from the choir, with stunning celebrations of New Zealand’s elements radiating a sense of timeless peace and wonder in Ellen Mekkelholt’s Motukiekie Surge, Anieska Banks’ Softness, and Isabella Young’s Soft Blue, 2:39 PM, contrasted against the youthful urban observations of Darryl Chin’s Signgapore, Chippy Draws’ Fiery Faerie Fullah, Sena Park’s AKL 2019 ,and Klae Brown’s I Should’ve Said Hello, elevating the daily sights and sounds of the bustling city through the discerning eye of the artist, while inviting and including us all through all too recognisable humour and the comforting sense of not taking life, and art, too seriously. Natasha Wong’s Pieces, much like Andy Warhol’s Marilyn series, explores the influence of pop culture icons on our visual world by deconstructing and distorting the faces of musicians into fascinating, confusing images. At an even smaller scale, Bobbie Gray’s Little Labyrinth brings everyday life into art through magnifying the patterns created by borer in wood as they search for nourishment and shelter; celebrating the movements of life and survival as a transformative and creative process.
Sarah-Walker Holt’s French Curve, Brooch and presentational construct pushed the boundaries of the project through the stratosphere, exploring the tension between raw material and finished product by deconstructing the wooden board and transforming it into a multi-dimensional piece including a wearable piece of jewellery. The project, in turn, challenged and transformed the usual digital practice of Cam Edwards resulting in Lean To, a work deftly and skilfully exploring the recreation of conceptual forms into the physical world within a ‘defined space.’ Traditional art practice is also celebrated in Isobel Gledhill’s My Turn in the Moon, where illustration and the manipulation of colour and narrative transports the viewer into an imaginary world of possibility and wonder, and Tabitha Cornelia’s magnetic Eksperimenting, a striking, painterly exploration of the physicality of paint that I wish I could’ve brought home.
Once again, Comet Project Space has inspired and celebrated creativity through a welcoming spirit of collaboration. The space not only provided the physical materials of art, but a place of conversation and exposure. Here, Friday night can once again become a time of potential and discovery, of meaningful introductions and new relationships. Unlike the exclusive, and at times inaccessible ‘big ticket galleries’ we have all come to know, and fear, Comet invites the wandering partier from the street, the struggling art student, or the amateur art critic rushing in from a long week of work to explore their own potential in experiencing, creating, and sharing their art.
In encouraging and elevating the diversity of art in this show and removing the barriers of commercially acquiring this experience through free entry and an art swap, OFFCUT has challenged creativity in a new light, a light of bolstering and benefitting others through sharing, and the ongoing potential is just as exciting and beautiful as the result.
Reviewed by Erna Tidy
Curated by Bobbie Gray & Alicia Taylor
Photos by Chelsea Bauer