Wednesday, April 23, 2014

'Picnic' - Andrea Gardner

by Kara Wallace

Taking its title from the leisurely excursion into nature, Picnic by Andrea Gardner presents a series of photographs and sculptures that explore artifice and reality in faux outdoor settings.

Her works clearly looked staged, with their bright saturated colours and mix of the familiar placed in unexpected and unusual contexts. She includes a myriad of materials, such as taxidermy animals, constructed mud boulders, astro turf, gingham cloths, to name a few. Gardner acknowledges this artifice, indicating that there is no pretence, and thus crafts a space to consider the human effect on nature.

The condensed staging of her art is reminiscent of vanitas painting, a type of still life painting popular in the 17th Century which featured an array of symbolic objects that question mortality. And Gardner does indeed query the mortality of our environment. She is interested in exploring the relationship between culture and nature, themes that are bound up in romanticism and nostalgia, as well as having an awareness of modern science and the overarching environmental concerns of the 21st Century.

This relationship between nature and culture is undoubtedly becoming more complex over time. Gardner plays on this theme of a ‘picnic’, which can be seen as a domestication of nature, a taming of one’s pastoral surroundings, by including a subtext of ‘no picnic’. The high artificiality contributes to a disconcerting sensation that arises from her work, and Gardner hints at other issues which are unsettling and problematic.

Shelley Gardner at CEAC

Artist Talk | Saturday 17 May, 11am

Andrea will discuss her exhibition Picnic, along with her process of working in the mediums of photography and sculpture. This is a free event, no bookings needed.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Art comes in many forms
Corban Estate Art Centre

by Kara Wallace

Corban Estate Arts Centre's latest exhibitions feature artists Laura Marsh, Galia Amsel and Chiara Corbelletto. These three exhibitions are on display from 7 March till 13 April 2014.

A Thinner Line is an installation of artworks by Laura Marsh that collectively consider the line between life and death. Marsh’s latest exhibition features new works developed during her time in Colombia, South America on an artist’s residency.

Internationally acclaimed glass artist Galia Amsel’s survey exhibition Take Ten,  showcases ten cast glass works. These works represent ten years of making since leaving the UK and settling in West Auckland. We see the fundamental influence the surrounding landscape and climate has had on Amsel’s evolving glass practice.

Chiara Corbelletto’s Morphic Field 2  presents a series of floating and ethereal sculptural works, visualizing how forms may emerge from space. Corbelletto’s selection of sculptures are inspired by current theories in physics, and transformed by the idea of a unified field of potentiality as the ultimate fabric of reality.

On offer is a full range of free art gallery activities. Auckland based artists Galia Amsel and Chiara Corbelletto will give artist talks at CEAC’s Open Arts Day Saturday 29 March at 11am and 2pm. Laura Marsh will be making string drawings at her kids workshop Saturday 5 April, 11am. All materials provided, no bookings required.

Image captions:
Galia Amsel Floe 9, (2011, Courtesy of Masterworks Gallery.
Laura Marsh Dreamweaver 2 (detail) 2013
Chiara Corbelletto Space Event, 2013 Courtesy of Bath St Gallery

Exhibitions details:
Exhibition: A Thinner Line
Artist: Laura Marsh   
Exhibition dates: 7 March – 13 April 2014

Exhibition: Take Ten
Artist: Galia Amsel
Exhibition dates: 7 March – 13 April 2014

Exhibition: Morphic Field 2
Artist: Chiara Corbelletto
Exhibition dates: 7 March – 13 April 2014

Public programmes           
Exhibitions opening:                            Thursday 6 March, 6pm - 8pm
Galia Amsel Artist Talk:                         Saturday 29 March 2014, 11am
Chiara Corbelletto Artist Talk:              Saturday 29 March 2014, 2pm
Kids Art Workshop:                               Saturday 5 April 2014, 11am
CEAC Open Arts Day                             Saturday 29 March 2014, 10am - 10pm
Entry:                                                   Free, all welcome

If you would like more information about these exhibitions or for media inquiries please contact the curator, Kara Wallace: 09 838 4455 extension 203 or

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

First is Last, Last is First 
Sam Mitchell
by: Kara Wallace
First is Last, Last is First is a new series of large scale portraits by Auckland based artist, Sam Mitchell. There are a few central influences in this series –fairy tales, cartoons and comics, current affairs, socio-sexual politics and popular culture, death and beauty. The series is insightful and imaginative, playful and humorous with the familiar tattoo imagery and 1920’s and 1940’s images overlaid on faces giving the works the layered look of a screen print, a discipline Sam learned at art school.

Mitchell is a collector and recycler of pop culture images; she has collected her eclectic motifs from multiple sources: tattoos, movies, magazines and the internet. These are transformed into loaded narratives and scattered across floating heads of people, famous and unknown.

The paintings are created through a technique of painting acrylic backwards and in reverse usually on a perspex sheet to get a slick glossy finish. This is a demanding technique which requires the last touches to be made first and the background, which is normally applied first, last. This process which most would struggle with comes naturally to Sam, who is dyslexic.

Portraiture and collaging of images has consistently been the subject and mode of working for the artist. Art critic Warwick Brown says, “She is a figurative artist with an obsessive drive to create images” 1  Mitchell describes her works as “Portraits from the inside out”. The portraits share a tattoo parlor aesthetic with the eclectic motifs tattooed on the paintings reminiscent of cartoons or comics.

It is important for Mitchell that the viewer “owns” the works and brings their own narrative to the pieces. The surface is littered with loaded images making it easy for the viewer to construct their own fairy tale, imagined history or narrative.  Mitchell is giving us her view on the world. She can’t tell us how to look, it is up to us to interpret it as we wish.

1.Warwick Brown, Seen This Century: 100 Contemporary New Zealand Artists. A Collector’s Guide (Random House New Zealand: Auckland, 2009) p. 284

Artists’ biography
Sam Mitchell currently lives and works in Auckland. Mitchell has exhibited works nationally and internationally in private galleries as well as public art institutions. Recent solo exhibitions include: Hip (Bartley and Co, Wellington, 2013), Members Only (Melanie Roger Gallery, 2012), Glean (Melanie Roger Gallery, 2011), Time May Change Me (Anna Bibby Gallery, 2010) and Samantha Mitchell (Newcastle Regional Gallery, Australia, 2010). Mitchell has received many prestigious awards for her work including the Paramount Award at the Wallace Art Awards (2010) allowing a six-month residency at the International Studio and Curatorial Programme in New York. Additionally Mitchell has been featured in recent publications such as Warwick Brown’s Seen this century: 100 contemporary New Zealand Artists: A Collector’s Guide (2009) and Richard Wolfe’s New Zealand Portraits (2008).2.

2. Artist Bio text by Victoria Wynne Jones, Courtesy of Melanie Roger Gallery

Sam Mitchell – Artist Talk | Saturday 15 February, 11am
2010 Wallace Art Award winner, Sam Mitchell talks about her latest exhibition First Is Last, Last Is First, and her artist residency in New York. This is a free event, no bookings needed.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Eclectic motifs and contemporary methods
Corban Estate Arts Centre's latest exhibitions feature Sam Mitchell and various artists newly graduated from Auckland art schools. These two shows are on display from 24 January till 2 March 2014. 

First is Last, Last is First features new room sized portraits by artist Sam Mitchell. These works are tattooed with eclectic motifs collected and repurposed from fairy tales, cartoons, legends and Corban Estate’s history. Underlying Mitchell’s popular culture portraits are a concoction of social, political and gender issues. 

New Grads Show 2014 is a chance to see the latest approaches in contemporary art. Come along to Corban Estate Arts Centre’s annual selection of new work from ten visual arts and fine arts school graduates from across the Auckland region. 

On offer is a full range of free art gallery activities. Auckland based artist and 2010 Wallace Arts Award winner Sam Mitchell talks about her latest exhibition First is Last, Last is First, and her residency in New York on Saturday 15 February 2014, 11am. In response to the New Grads exhibition children will recreate art that is inspired by the contemporary art coming out of visual art schools today. All materials provided, no bookings required, Saturday 22 February 2014, 11am.

Image captions:
Sam Mitchell, Sofia (detail), 2013, Collection of Diocesan School for Girls. Image courtesy of Melanie Roger Gallery.
Julia Hannig, Hayr Road (detail), 2013. Image is courtesy of the artist.

Exhibitions details:
Exhibition: First is Last, Last is First
Artist: Sam Mitchell
Exhibition dates: 24 January – 2 March 2014

Exhibition: New Grads Show 2014
Artists: Tunisia Angell-Kea, Andy Baker, Janette Cervin, Mark Grubner, Julia Hannig, Annie Puri, Deborah Rundle, Caleb Satele, Paula Schaafhausen, Winston Shacklock
New Grads Show features graduates from: Auckland University of Technology, School of Art and Design; Elam School of Fine Arts, The University of Auckland; Manukau School of Visual Arts; Unitec Institute of Technology, Department of Design & Visual Arts and Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design.

Exhibition dates: 24 January – 2 March 2014

Public programmes
Exhibitions opening: Thursday 23 January 2014, 6pm-8pm
Sam Mitchell Artist Talk: Saturday 15 February 2014, 11am-12pm
Kids Art Workshop: Saturday 22 February 2014, 11am
Entry: Free, all welcome

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

Friday, January 10, 2014

Inland Empire
Ruth Cleland and Gary McMillan

Steph Chalmers, Art Collection Curator, University of Waikato
Extracted from the Inland Empire catalogue essay

Uninhabited spaces, ordinary scenes, overlooked views. Ruth Cleland and Gary McMillan make drawings and paintings of the places we fail to notice, as we are preoccupied with the busyness and activities of daily life. 

It’s not uncommon for new viewers to confuse the works of these two artists. Ruth and Gary share a consistent attention to detail, a similar ‘everyday’ subject matter, and both use photographs as the starting point for their drawings and paintings. But it’s a mistake to assume that the intent of their work is the same. 

Gary describes his work as being “closer to fiction.” He thinks of his paintings as frames from an imaginary film, where each scene has a sense of impending action. With a slight tilt or blur to the image, a movement is caught and there is a feeling that the view itself is about to shift. Like an in-between shot that segues to the next moment of action, his paintings deliberately evoke a feeling of unease.

Ruth’s works are “closer to non-fiction.” There is a sense of social documentary in her scenes of suburbia, empty shopping malls and parking buildings. Not wanting her work to be a direct statement on suburban sprawl, but rather a snapshot in time without overt judgement or commentary, Ruth’s work raises questions of what do we value, where do we spend our time, and what will these places be like in the future? 

The use of the grid has become an integral feature in Ruth’s recent work - bringing the method of image transfer to our attention – a further acknowledgement of the source photograph and a nod to historical art practice. The meticulous enlargement, square by square, from the original photograph is a process both Ruth and Gary employ.

Ruth and Gary’s work and practices are symbiotically interlaced; through each influencing, encouraging, and acting as each other’s sounding board. With the amount of time devoted to creating their artworks, it’s advantageous for them each to have a partner that understands the drive and intent behind the making.

Artists’ biography
Ruth Cleland and Gary McMillan are Auckland based artists, both originally from the Waikato region. They studied at Dunedin School of Art, each gaining a Master of Fine Arts with distinction, Ruth in 2002 followed by Gary in 2003. Ruth and Gary have featured in numerous exhibitions both nationally and internationally, in dealer galleries and public galleries, including the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Blue Oyster Gallery, Hocken Gallery, Vermont Studio Centre, Gus Fisher Gallery, and the University of Waikato. Among other successes, both artists have been awarded the 1st prize at the National Painting and Printmaking Award (Ruth in 2003 and Gary in 2012). In 2008, Ruth was the recipient of the Wallace Trust Development Award and in 2009, Ruth and Gary completed artist residencies at the Vermont Studio Centre, USA. Ruth and Gary are represented in the collections of The James Wallace Arts Trust, The Hocken Library, Otago Polytechnic and Eastern Southland Gallery. Ruth is also represented in the Chartwell Collection held at the Auckland Art Gallery and the Trust Waikato Collection held at the Waikato Museum. 

Ruth and Gary have had a significant influence on each other, having met at art school and been together for 18 years. Inland Empire is their first joint show and both artists feel it has been a natural progression bringing their work together.

Ruth Cleland is represented by Melanie Roger Gallery and Gary McMillan is represented by FHE Galleries.

Artists talk with Ruth Cleland and Gary McMillan | Thursday 16 January, 4.45pm

Join artists Ruth Cleland and Gary McMillan in a conversation about their joint exhibition, Inland Empire. (Free event)

Welcome to Corban Estate Arts Centre 
in 2014!

We are looking forward to this year and what it will bring.  
We re-opened on 6 January 2014, and get straight into our Summer School on 13 January.  There are diverse courses on offer spanning printmaking to silver jewellery, singing with freedom to children's book illustration.  

New to Summer School is the film-making course.  During 2013 we trialled the end to end film-making course with Bryan Hudkins, Mike Lough and their team, Dreams in Shadow.  In just two days participants completed short films and directly uploaded them to You Tube.
On Saturday 29 March we have our Open Arts Day, replacing the Open Studio Weekend held annually till now.  

Open Arts Day will be non-stop from 10am till 10pm, with several exhibitions to see, artists to converse with, art workshops to try, and performances and films to indulge in.  This year we are making special provision for the Deaf community to participate, providing NZ sign language where we can.  

While Open Arts Day is primarily for adults, further into the year, we have our Kids Arts Festival on 17 May, where children cut loose creating and performing; and starting late June we will hold several Matariki Festival events.  

Meanwhile with summer here, enjoy it and hang out with a nice coffee under the umbrellas at the Coffee Studio cafĂ©. It’s a great spot for that lunch meeting or for just getting together with friends.
Martin Sutcliffe, Director
Corban Estate Arts Centre