Monday, September 30, 2013

Mrs Chrysanthemum patiently waits...
Kim Lowe
By: Kathryn Tsui, Curator

In Mrs Chrysanthemum patiently waits..., artist Kim Lowe employs a diverse range of printmaking techniques to depict the varied extracts of her family's mixed New Zealand Chinese and Pakeha history.

Lowe draws upon the wealth of stories surrounding her ancestral history and the marginalisation of pioneering NZ Chinese migrant families. The prints in the exhibition relate to her paternal grandmother of Chinese origin who was born in Cuba and then brought up in New Zealand. “Even though she had been in New Zealand since she was 6 or 7 she still kept her Cuban passport so was classified as a NZ alien because she refused to denounce her Chineseness”, says the artist. 

Akin to her grandmother the artist resiliently represents her mixed cultural heritage, through her chosen art medium of print. Both printmaking and working on paper connects to European and Chinese art traditions. Even the fundamental act of making prints requires a negative image to create the positive printed image, this relates to the artist’s interest in the Chinese concept of polarity where opposites are necessary to create balance. Also embedded in Lowe’s works are visual symbols and motifs from Chinese and European art history and antiquity.    

Cultural hybridity, elements of Taoist Philosophy and nature are often starting points for the artist. A more recent influence for the Christchurch based artist has been the 2011 earthquake. Making the best out of the aftermath Lowe has incorporated by products from this destructive natural disaster.

Earlier works in this exhibition, 96 Lotus Feet (2007) and Underbellies (2007), were damaged by liquefaction during the quake.  The artist has chosen to retain the liquefaction on these works and new post-quake works adopt the same grey palette. Not only as a response to the quake the grey also symbolises Lowe’s recollection of visiting her ancestral house in China, where everything was caked in a similar coloured dust. 

The overall narrative in Mrs Chrysanthemum patiently waits... is themed around cultural hybridity based on the artist’s ancestral roots. Lowe describes hybridity today as, “being less infused with biological cross breeding and has lost some of its negativity. It has become a term which describes more of an exchange, borrowing, mixing or combining of different cultures.”

Artist biography
Kim Lowe is a Christchurch based artist with an art practice grounded in printmaking and painting that centres around mixed cultural identity. In 2009 Lowe completed a Master of Fine Arts from Ilam School of Fine Arts, University of Canterbury. Recent art projects include coordinating the Sendai-Christchurch Art Exchange in response to the 2011 quake and tsunami events in Christchurch and Japan. Lowe recently returned from presenting at IMPACT8 International Printmaking Conference in Scotland.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Beauty Through The Four Hands
Sang Sool Shim & Keum Sun Lee 

By: Kathryn Tsui, Curator

Sang Sool Shim and Keum Sun Lee are self-taught potters, together they collaborate on ceramics that incorporate both traditional Korean and contemporary ceramic techniques. Their works reflect their cultural heritage and a life set in the Waitakere Ranges.

Their two-way clay practice is an extension of their relationship as husband and wife. Pottery became their self-selected career in 2001, it meant the couple could work together full time in their home based studio. Primarily their small and large scale ceramics are hand built by Shim and then intricately decorated by Lee. 
Shim is a renowned 8th Dan master in the Korean martial art Tae Kwon Do, he was the former national couch for Brunei and instructor to the Brunei royal family. Now he tackles the intense physical nature of clay, often starting with 15cm thick slabs of clay he paddles and hand forms this dense material into delicately thin oversized vessels and sculptures.

Lee has a Doctorate in public administration and since living in New Zealand has turned her academic mind to study classical Korean ceramic decorative techniques. Many of the decorative methods featured in this exhibition come from the Bun-cheong style of ceramic ware which dates back to the Koryo Dynasty (918 -1392AD). Lee in particular specialises in several of these techniques including, Sanggam in which designs are incised or stamped before applying white clay or coloured slip which is then wiped away to reveal the design.  Another process distinctive to Shim and Lee’s work is Bakji a reverse inlay process in which the background is scrapped off, revealing a raised pattern. 

Complimentary to these customary techniques, they use equipment and materials common to the current ceramic practices in New Zealand. They fire their pottery in both gas and electric kilns and use contemporary glazes.

Their time intensive clay works are completely handmade and require a lot of patience and concentration to complete.  The couple enjoy this laborious and slow process as it contrasts with the pace of contemporary life. “In these days everything is so fast but we want to think of slow. That is why we concentrate and make fully handmade works. It is a kind of meditation,” say the artists.

Artists Biography
Sang Sool Shim and Keum Sun Lee are Korean born ceramic collaborators that live and work from a studio in West Auckland. Ceramic awards and accolades include; the John Green Artist Award in 2008 and 2009, the 2011 People’s Choice Award in the Portage Ceramic Awards, being international finalists in 2011 at the International Biennial of Ceramics, Austria and the International Ceramic Accessory Competition, Korea. In 2013 they were selected to present a lecture at the The 7th Gyeonggi International Ceramic Biennale, Seoul, Korea. Shim and Lee’s ceramics can be found in the collections of Kapsenberg Museum in Austria and the Portage Licensing Trust.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Cross cultural visual inheritance

Corban Estate Art Centre

Corban Estate Arts Centre's latest exhibitions by Simon Kaan, Kim Lowe, Sang Sool Shim and Keum Sun Lee, explores hybrid Asian identities through painting, printmaking and ceramics are on display from 13 September to 20 October 2013.

Dunedin based artist Simon Kaan, examines whenua (land) issues in this latest exhibition. Through multiple art disciplines the exhibition investigates the connection of land with water, to consider the responsibility of belonging to a place.  This exhibition features landscapes that combine visual motifs inherited from the artist’s, Kai Tahu and Chinese ancestry.

Kim Lowe is a Christchurch based artist and printmaker of New Zealand Chinese and Pakeha descent. Lowe’s latest exhibition of prints features new works based on past events and snippets of her diverse family's history.

Sang Sool Shim and Keum Sun Lee are self-taught potters, together they collaborate on large and small scale ceramic works. Hand thrown by Shim and intricately decorated by Lee, they work with both traditional Korean and contemporary ceramic techniques. Their artworks are influenced by their cultural heritage and a life set in the Waitakere Ranges of Auckland.

On Saturday 14 September, 10.30am artists Simon Kaan and Kim Lowe will present a joint exhibition talk, presenting an opportunity to hear these two South Island based artists.

Image captions:
Simon Kaan, Untitled (detail), 2013. Courtesy of Sanderson Contemporary Art.
Kim Lowe, Mrs Chrysanthemum patiently waits.... (detail), 2013.
Sang Sool Shim and Keum Sun Lee, The Eclipse Jar (detail), 2012.

Exhibitions details:

Exhibition: Te hā o te whenua -The breath of the land
Artist: Simon Kaan                                          
Exhibition dates: 13 September – 20 October 2013

Exhibition: Mrs Chrysanthemum patiently waits....        
Artist: Kim Lowe                                              
Exhibition dates: 13 September – 20 October 2013

Exhibition: Beauty of the four hands      
Artists:  Sang Sool Shim and Keum Sun Lee          
Exhibition dates: 13 September – 20 October 2013

Public programmes                                       
Exhibitions opening:                                                                                       Thursday 12 September, 6pm-8pm
Joint artist talk – Simon Kaan and Kim Lowe:                                        Saturday 14 September, 10.30am            
Entry:                                                                                                                    Free, all welcome

If you'd like more information about these exhibitions or for media inquiries please contact the curator, Kathryn Tsui: 09 838 4455 extension 203 or