Expect to have your perceptions of the world altered as you visit Christchurch’s galleries throughout the month of May.
You’ll see the strangest and most astonishing creatures to inhabit an art gallery in one of the best mid-career survey exhibitions by a New Zealand artist; an immersive installation that takes you to the Milky Way; and find yourself asking serious questions about the deceptive realities of photography.
1) First up on anyone’s list of must-see exhibitions has to be the 20-year survey of Francis Upritchard’s sculpture, installations and works on paper, “Jealous Saboteurs” at the Christchurch Art Gallery.
Where some mid-career exhibitions inadvertently highlight the limits of an artist’s practice, Jealous Saboteurs is a revelation. Upritchard emerges as one of New Zealand’s most eclectic and inspired maker of the strangest creatures and life forms to inhabit Planet Earth from the dawn of time to the present day.
Believe the hype: Upritchard is an internationally acclaimed artist for many good reasons, and this survey comprehensively offers up the evidence to sustain such praise. Jealous Saboteurs runs until 16 July.
* Merivale gets its first contemporary art gallery
* David Shrigley’s Lose Your Mind a cartoonish treat for Christchurch
2) Photographs from the past 10 years by Peter Peryer, at the Jonathan Smart Gallery, represent the first substantial survey and introduction to Christchurch of one of New Zealand’s most respected contemporary photographers.
Simply called Peter Peryer, 2017, the exhibition features coloured images by the photographer which transform the mundane and familiar into something more beautiful and unsettling. Look no further than the domestic interior of Newell, Oamaru, or Angels and Fans. Peter Peryer 2017 is at the Jonathan Smart Gallery until May 20.
3) Reworking the title of the 1980s Talking Head’s song, This Must be the Place (Naive Melody), the group exhibition at the Ilam Campus Gallery, “This Might be the Place”, features the work of three photographers who revisit and reconsider their hometowns as the subject of their work.
Emil McAcvoy, Caroline McQuarrie and Johanna Mechen, as the exhibition’s title suggests, raise questions about their subjects and the certainties and truths of documentary photography. This Might be the Place is open throughout May.
4) In Situ Photo Project may no longer be residing in a gallery space adjacent to Scorpio Books in central Christchurch, but its programme lives in a new site in the BNZ Centre in an exhibition of photographs by Stephen Trinder & DJN (Dan Newnham).
Located on the windows of Death by Denim, Trinder’s “Cars of Christchurch 2012” exhibits a selection of his 1800 photographs of much-loved and cared for Christchurch cars.
Trinder’s photographs have gained 3.25 million views on his flickr account and his work is complemented by DJN’s photographs of urban London from 1996 to 2004, with damaged signs and fences taking on an animated life of their own, seriously detached from their original purpose. The exhibition is sited at 101-119 Cashel St and runs to May 7 .
5) Curated by Andrew Paul Wood, Next Gallery’s “Corps-a-corps – riposting the male gaze in the 70s & 80s” is a selection of photographs by Margaret Dawson and Jane Zusters.
Wood revisits the work of both, focusing upon the gap between social documentary photography from the 70s and the work of two women, “subverting and deconstructing that in two very different ways”.
For those familiar with Dawson’s feminist portraits from the mid-1980s, the good news is that Women at the Catholic Cathedral, 1986 is included. Corps-a-corps is at 336 St Asaph St from May 3-6, 12-4pm.
6) At the Canterbury Museum, Flowers of War, a group exhibition of international contemporary jewellery by Auckland silversmith Kirsten Haydon, United Kingdom enamellist Elizabeth Turrell and Australian artist Neal Haslem, is much more than a selection of jewellery.
Meticulously crafted brooches of leafs and flowers have been conceived and created based on their association with either sites of battle from World War I or memories from the home front.
They are collectively displayed on a large upstanding wreath, an installation that will continue to be the location for additional brooches to be added over the next two years when Flowers of War is displayed in Australia and the UK. Flowers of War is at the Canterbury Museum until June 4.
7) A first for Christchurch in May is the opening of a solo exhibition by nationally renowned painter and printmaker Elizabeth Thomson at The Central in the Arts Centre.
Navigating the Zone presents a selection of works from the past decade. Thomson’s observations and detailed record of the natural world and its botanical and molecular forms, are reinvented by the artist in abstract and formalist images that retain their sense of magic and immediate connection to the real world. Navigating the Zone opens at The Central on May 11 and runs until June 11.
8 & 9) The Physics Room opens two exhibitions in May that encourage us to consider new ways of responding to and experiencing the days of our lives.
In Westerlund 2, Hannah Beehre creates an immersive installation in the Physics Room’s South gallery.
Using dyes, acrylic paint and Swarovski crystals on velvet, Beehre relocates the gallery visitor far out in space in the Milky Way. Yet she does so to return us to Planet Rarth, creating a tangible awareness and experience of the air and environment of the gallery.
Also at the Physics Room, Nova Paul’s film installation, Surplus Reality, brings together moving images with a three-channel sound piece which calls visitors into the gallery space. Paul’s interest in psychodrama therapy and theories about our potential to “imagine new possibilities for ourselves” are explored through the medium of film and moving images capable of activating the imagination. Both exhibitions open May 6 and run until June 11.
10) Form Gallery in Sydenham is exhibiting a series of sculptures by American-born artist Doug Neil.
Canoe Dreams considers the canoe as a metaphor for travel and discovery, wellbeing and prosperity. Neil’s has stone sculptures in Christchurch, in Ohinetahi in Governors Bay and Halswell Quarry, and is best known for his work in marble, granite and basalt. Canoe Dreams is at Form Gallery until May 23.
11) Sydow: Tomorrow Never Knows, at the Christchurch Art Gallery, is a survey of works by Christchurch artist Carl Sydow (1940-1975). Sydow, in London in the 1960s when Op and Pop Art came alive, produced works on paper and sculptures which are among the best of any work by his contemporaries, nationally and internationally from this period.
Sydow: Tomorrow Never Knows, is an absolute pleasure to experience, bringing to light a body of work that challenges and distorts our perceptions of reality, retaining all the spirited energy and excitement of the time and place in which Sydow worked. Sydow: Tomorrow Never Knows is open until July 23.
12) And finally – PGgallery 192 opens Bill Hammond’s exhibition of new work, Inveigle, and new drawings and sculpture by Sam Harrison. Both exhibitions run until May 26.