Robyn Webster Murray Hedwig Mike Southern Nigel Young
Robyn Webster -Biologicals
New Works from Robyn Webster- 2023/24
Oil based ink and harakeke imprints on Somerset 100% cotton acid free paper
“There is a certain respect, and a general duty of humanity, that attaches us not only to animals, who have life and feeling, but even to trees and plants. We owe justice to men, and mercy and kindness to other creatures that may be capable of receiving it. There is some relationship between them and us, and some mutual obligation.” Michel de Montaigne
“How to Live, A Life of Montaigne in One question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer “
by Sarah Bakewell Vintage 2011
My practice continually develops in response to available material both physical and otherwise. It is the result of many years exploring the boundaries between art and craft (especially women’s work) and between two and three dimensions (sculpture and picture-making). It is also founded in the ecological awareness that emerged from my early relationship with te Ao Māori through the plant harakeke- and continued from within my pakeha perspective via Art School in my late twenties. It also draws on the parts of my life lived outdoors.
These latest works are an investigation into our reliance on plants, both for life and for metaphor- in these works, those deriving from growth, branching, cellular activity, and fungal connections. Since I use a plant to make my images (from any one of the harakeke /NZ Flax varieties Tapamangu, Arawa and Awahou growing in my pa harakeke at home) I was interested in underlining that by pulling another leaf- the Puka- into the image. The size of the puka leaves means my figures fit inside them, which supports the metaphor perfectly.
“In Audrey Eagle’s illustrated book of native trees and shrubs the life-sized outline of the leaf from the Puka tree (Meryta Sinclairii) extends beyond the page of the book, pukapuka. These giant leaves are leathery, long lasting like a papyrus asking to be written upon. In the continuum of Webster’s prints the Puka leaf is a repeated presence, like a speech bubble it opens up the conversation the artist begins with. The large oval shape with slightly asymmetrical edges has satisfying human connections; uterus like, an enclosed and protected space. In Te Reopuka also means lungs, our life-giving inner space.
Overlaying fine layers of subtle and sombre colour containing patterns referencing the microscopic, the original puka shape becomes an echo, at times a shadow or afterimage. Almost an absence of a presence, a palimpsest. The inclusion of human figures that are veined, bound organically, x-rayed, brings the scale of the molecular to the human body. The simplicity of the puka shape embedded with soft pattern and holding small scale figures, become portals to a clearer way of thinking about our integral participation with the natural word. The fact that we are the natural world, despite our penchant for a blinding addiction to materialism and perpetual vanity.”
Evelyn Hewlett Punakaiki 2024
These are selected works from a large body of feather studies and native birds from the forest on the land where I live.
Over a few years, single frame images gradually montaged into more complex forms. My studio work consciously began to explore form and light using a shallow depth of field, influenced by the experience of losing the sight in my left eye. This gave me small holes of sharpness in a fields of opal blur.
I didn’t know where the small details of feathers would be used – that was a reward later.
I have always taken the opportunity to photograph deceased native birds on our property and after creating some montaged feather works I wanted to push towards a narrative or metaphoric solution. Wearing a cloak lets a young Tui be ‘King of the forest’, while weka feathers are able to climb a sonic stairway.
I was born in Syracuse, New York, USA in March of 1968. I spent the first forty one years of my life in the USA until moving to Aotearoa in 2009. Our family’s initial time in New Zealand lasted three years. During the pandemic, my family and I decided to return permanently.
I received a Masters in Fine Arts in Printmaking from the University of Georgia in 1995. My work has evolved from meticulously observed black and white landscape etchings into small, spontaneously created landscapes in oil to its’ current iteration of figurative paintings. The paintings represent the last twenty or so years of my artistic practice.
The introduction of the figures into the landscapes began roughly in 2005 but my overall body of work maintains, at its’ core, an ongoing investigation into finding our place within the natural world. The figure in the landscape as a motif has its’ roots in the earliest scrawling of human culture. The mythology and storytelling of indigenous cultures, western civilization, and my own amalgams of memory, invention and reflection are thrown into the narrative mix. The characters depicted in this body of work are stage actors in a new mythology.
Over time, this narrative has evolved and is now taking shape as it travels a more specific path. The primacy of the feminine form and feminine power has always been a key element in this work. The Old World is gone and with it the quest for human control, domination and subjugation. Values of interdependency with nature, the integration of the spiritual with the corporal, ritual adornment and aesthetics are all themes that have emerged.
These images begin with an arresting gesture or an evocative landscape. The story is then built around these elements. Research of mythic cultural patterns, ethnological discourse and a host of other aesthetic, spiritual and scientific resources help to inform these constantly evolving narratives. This work has become my hopeful prayer as our species hurtles itself further down a path of irredeemable excess and compulsion. It is my way forward.
Nigel’s photography focuses on an ordinary and often taken for granted constructed detail and expresses its relationship with itself.