Nau mai, haere mai, welcome to eyeCONTACT, a forum built to encourage art reviews and critical discussion about the visual culture of Aotearoa New Zealand. I'm John Hurrell its editor, a New Zealand writer, artist and curator. While Creative New Zealand and other supporters are generously paying me and other contributors to review exhibitions over the following year, all expressed opinions are entirely our own.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Richard Reddaway - Light, Sound: Built
Jonathan Smart, Christchurch
May 12 – June 7, 2009

Three sprawling, but varied, installations make up this Richard Reddaway exhibition in Jonathan Smart’s back gallery: one wall based, another floor fixated, a third – in a corner – both.

The wall work is like a series of modernist box-buildings set on a cliff face, with different sizes and projecting depths. But these are not model houses but wired up, super sharp, music speakers, made of chipboard and covered with veneer. The five speaker clusters emit a soundtrack that is part of the sculptural experience, for the noises energetically move around and come and go. We hear simple sounds like a dripping tap, laughter, whistling, or solo violin. Or more those more complex like the murmuring and roaring of a crowd in a big sports stadium. Often also there are several speakers in each box, so you have to listen carefully to discover which is the source. You need to move around a bit.

On the floor is a wooden desk used normally by the gallery proprietor. On its wide top and around its feet, and out into the middle of the space, are about a dozen lamps glowing against the dark wood grain. The work is a bit too Bill Culbertish for comfort, yet Reddaway’s choice of glass lamps is interesting. They are oddly ornamental. A few are severe, like truncated cylinders, but others are organic, like shells or seeds, some angular and spikey, and others still have scalloped frilly edges. Their peculiar mix of decoration intrigues.

The highlight though is really Reddaway’s collection of Swandri droopy blob creatures. Part club-footed people, part tartan-clad amphibians, but also woolly and podgy, they cling to the walls and slither downward in crumpled heaps – yet they are actually held off the floor by very low tables. They have a Rob McLeod or Elizabeth Murray look about them, and have speakers built in that for this show are not working. As lumberjack androids they are wonderfully ambiguous in their activity. As if there is some kind of orgy or beating on the floor of the wood shed we have just interrupted.

No comments: