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Idiom Studio: Surrealism in Newtown

Idiom Studio: Surrealism in Newtown


Local Knowledge ­ painting, sculpture, mixed media by Ray Ritchie
Idiom Studio
10 July ­ 2 August 2003
Preview 5.30pm, Wednesday 9 July

Attached: Claustrophobia, 485 x 400mm, acrylic on paper, 1990

Ray Ritchie's 30-year apprenticeship as a self-taught regionalist artist appears to be completed, as his unique and subversive vision of society draws attention in this country and overseas.

Ritchie's first-ever exhibition, at Wellington City Art Gallery's Hirschfeld Gallery in April, caught the attention of collectors from Australia and the UK as well as New Zealand. His first exhibition at a dealer gallery, Idiom Studio, opens on 10 July and a similar response is expected.

The show Local Knowledge will draw on each of the decades in which Ritchie has been working away in the studio of his Newtown house, largely untaught and unacknowledged, recycling whatever material he had on hand. "I just did what pleased me," he says. " I never thought it would ever go public." In those 30 years he has seldom sold one of his startling drawings, sculptures or mixed media works, but likes to think that others can now enjoy them.

His work came to light when his wife responded to a notice placed in a community newspaper by Stuart Shepherd, a lecturer at the School of Fine Art and Design, Massey University, Wellington. With sponsorship from Massey, Shepherd has been seeking out "self-taught and visionary" artists around New Zealand. Ritchie's work, he says "is unique in the way his personality, politics and humour are expressed so consistently , and in the high degree of practical craftsmanship , the tradesmanlike thoroughness and lack of pretension.

"Ray could be seen as following the noble New Zealand tradition of backyard tinkering. In his process of allowing materials and objects to be something else, he also seems able to harness the outrageous freedom of childhood imagination. But weaving through this whimsy there is a deeper pulse - his depiction of the transience of things."


For more information, photographs of artworks or to interview the artist, contact Mark Derby, ph. (04) 939 1215 or (027) 279 049, Idiom Studio, 26 Elizabeth St, Mt Victoria

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