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"The Feather Trade: Denis O'Connor, 7 Found Poems"
2001-03-30 until 2001-04-29
City Gallery Wellington
Wellington, , NZ

Poetry is the touchstone for an ongoing series of works by Denis OConnor, which will be marked by a weekend reading by Wellington writers later next year. This exhibition, designed specially for the 360 space, features seven sculptural wall-pieces made from exotic materials such as blue lace agate, pink and white quartz, lime onyx, teak and slate. The installation is complemented by a distinct colour scheme for the walls, devised by the artist.

Poetic texts, literature and history are a frequent source of inspiration for OConnor, along with ideas drawing on his Irish ancestry and New Zealand as a nation of immigrants and voyagers. The seven works have their links with the titles, book covers, and verse by prominent Wellington writers. Bill Manhire, James Brown, Vincent OSullivan and Elizabeth Knox will read their work on Sunday 29 April at 3pm, at 360 / Michael Hirschfeld Gallery.

In creating a sculpture, OConnor might start with a personal experience, then a fragment of poetry or evocative found object, weaving back and forth through memory, history and time. For example, the idea for the shows title work The Plumassier, (The Feather Trader) came from seeing an arrow-motif on the tiled wall of La Chapelle Metro Station in Paris, which evoked for the artist the concepts of migration and internal journeys.

Three years later, in 1999, I saw a Plumassier, a wizened woman of 90 odd, trading feathers in her lair of stone and faded cardboard boxes in Barcelona. Andrew Johnstons book of verse Birds of Europe followed, to complete the narrative for a slice of exotic transparent onyx covered with plummage-like striations, that had leaned against my bedroom window for several years, illuminating a golden dawn light.

OConnors work is included in all major public collections throughout New Zealand, as well as international collections. The Feather Trade is presented within the programme 360 - a full perspective on Wellington Art, which is generously sponsored by Designworks.


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