1491998281128 - Horsehair and shadowland

Horsehair and shadowland

I got to see Kate Elder’s exhibition come to life, the birthing of the show, you could say, as it was unwrapped and hung on the gallery walls.

And with artworks you like it’s quite a special thing to see.

This wasn’t any particular privilege of mine; just interest, time and an awareness of schedules.

Zimmerman Art Gallery runs like a seasonal clock, where at the start of each month the next exhibition goes up and the previous one is moved aside. If you stroll around at closing time (3pm) on that day before the new month you will see amid a whorl of bubble wrap, levels and ladders the setting up of the new.

It’s especially exciting with this new show because Elder, an artist with a background in furniture making, has work that is very hard to ‘read’ from images.

The artworks are made up of three-dimensional units and sometimes holes in the backing boards, so it becomes difficult to figure out what is shadow, what is paint and what isn’t there at all. This play on shadow versus paint is amplified by the artist with her mimicry paint shadows also added on many of the works.

So there is a constant play of illusion – positive and negative spaces having importance and that in-between of perhaps shadow, perhaps outline.

The exhibition has two strands. One series uses round doweling pegs cut to different levels gathered into collected groupings – some spread out over the surface of the artworks, others gathered tightly together.

The others are more mixed up shapings – half rounds and squares, some like small block houses with a triangular top resembling a roof. They naturally have the feel of models, as if these are prototypes for some odd building project that we are viewing – like one of those, becoming increasingly familiar, drone topographical shots.

But then some are more free range, moving into abstracted play. These are my favourites of the show, particularly when she has added soft colour into the mix, painting on some of the different planes of the shapes.

Another show also running is “The Horses stayed Behind” by Cat Auburn, a tribute to the horses from the New Zealand regiments in the battlefields of Europe lost in service during World War I.

She has collected horse hair samples from a huge number of donors and made them into small florets or wreaths. These are then attached over five panels stretched with linen, so it presents as a large pictorial panel of a spray of flowers in browns and greys.

The donor’s names (listed extensively on text boards) make interesting reading, with names from an obvious racing background – like Razzy, Watch It Butter and Zip – without the solemnity you would expect with what they commemorate.

They are tactile and feminine, with a slight feel of a Victorian keepsake about them, so different from the usual statuary to remember war loss.