Indepth Arts News: |
"Lone Stranger: Barbara Strathdee"
2002-08-30 until 2002-09-29
City Gallery Wellington, 360-Michael Hirschfeld Gallery
Seeking out New Zealanders in Kombi vans was one of the ways senior
Wellington artist Barbara Strathdee used to quell her homesickness during 30
years living in Trieste, northern Italy. This exhibition of prints,
photographs and sculptural installations explores those feelings of
dislocation - the feelings of being an outsider in another culture, a
dweller or traveller in a foreign place far away from your home country.
Born in Wellington in 1941, Barbara Strathdee arrived in the northern port
city of Trieste, where her scientist husband was based, in the 1960s. The
couple stayed for three decades, during which time Strathdee held many solo
exhibitions in both countries. Lone Stranger is the sixth occasion she has
exhibited at City Gallery Wellington. Most recently her work featured in
Parihaka-The Art of Passive Resistance (2000).
"When I got homesick, I used to go into town and seek out any Kombi vans I
could see with New Zealand flags on them," says Strathdee. "I'd invite the
Kiwis back for a free shower and a talk!" She playfully explores this
yearning for a far away place in a series of prints entitled Sweet NZ. Jelly
jubes have been laid out in the shape of New Zealand, then enlarged to look
like travel posters for a delectable holiday destination. The work
highlights how important the distinctive shape of New Zealand becomes when
you're away from home for a long time, and how you find yourself paying
sudden attention when a reference to New Zealand crops up in the news or in
a book, she says.
Other works draw on the experience of being in Trieste, close to the former
Yugoslavian border, during the war between Serbia and Croatia in the 1990s.
The photographs, Bisogna Provveder (Provisions), originate from a 1994
installation Strathdee made at an annual art festival in Sitran, a mountain
village in the Dolomites. The festival is held when the villagers are
storing away provisions for winter. Strathdee placed photographs of
Wellington harbour (taken by fellow artist Philippa Blair) into round
aluminium forms. "The photos of the sea are a collection of the places I
dreamt of through the worst of the months of conflict. This was my way of
storing up provisions for difficult times," she says.
* Artist's talk - Tuesday 10 September, 6pm, City Cinema
Barbara Strathdee talks with Dr Suzanne P. MacAuley, an American art
historian and folklorist, about the experience of being a 'world traveller'
and 'professional exile'. Dr MacAulay has worked extensively overseas and
now directs the Quay School of the Arts, Wanganui Polytechnic, Wanganui. She
is writing a book on highly trained immigrants who have come to work in
Wanganui's educational and medical sectors.
Lone Stranger is presented within the 360 programme - a full perspective on
Wellington Art - which is generously sponsored by Designworks. Generously
supported by Montana Wines Ltd and Ruth Pretty Catering. City Gallery
Wellington is managed by the Wellington Museums Trust with major funding
from the Wellington City Council.