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Viticulture Not Only Connect'n Between France, NZ

Media Release: Exhibition Profile
17th October- 11 December 2005

light wine things – Bill Culbert

Toured by the Dunedin Public Art Gallery.


2005 sees France and New Zealand basking in mutual limelight. This year is the 60th anniversary of the formal establishment of diplomatic relations with France at the conclusion of WW2. It is also the year in which New Zealand art and design has been ‘discovered’ in France. Our artists and designers are ‘hot property’ in Paris right now. David Trubridge and Richard Killeen rugs by Dilana are in the front window of top design store Silvera Bastille, and in-store at Galleries Lafayette in Paris. There are currently five magazine articles on kiwi design in the leading design and interior magazines extolling innovative New Zealand design and including profiles on key figures, such as former Northlander David Trubridge and John Pule and Mark Brazier Jones. Celebrated kiwi designer Brendan MacFarlane, who lives in Paris, has just completed seriously high-profile projects for Renault and the major redesign of the iconic Pompidou Centre in Paris. Bill Culbert, this countries most celebrated expatriate New Zealand artist, now based in Paris and London, is showcased in Whangarei to conclude this exciting year for Franco/Kiwi artistic excellence. Culbert’s work from the Victoria University collection Long White Cloud last featured at WAM in 2001. Whangarei Art Museum is now proud to present Bill Culbert light wine things, an intriguing, subtle study of light, shadow and space, featuring over 100 remarkable photographs as well as several related installation works by this internationally acclaimed New Zealand artist.

Bill Culbert light wine things showcases Culbert’s inimitable way with light and things, and opens a window upon a lesser-known (but no less rich) aspect of his art, his photography. The exhibition also includes installation works loaned to the art museum for this exhibition from the Rutherford Trust collection and Dunedin Public Art Gallery collections.

Born in Port Chalmers, New Zealand, 1935, Bill Culbert now divides his time between England and France. He has been exhibiting his sculptural and photographic works in the United Kingdom, Europe, USA, Australia and New Zealand for over forty years to date. In New Zealand, Culbert is well known for his collaborations with Ralph Hotere, including works such as P.R.O.P. (1991), part of Dunedin Public Art Gallery’s collection, and Pathway to the Sea – Aramoana (1991), collection of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

A medium of shadows and light-traces, photography is at the heart of Culbert’s way of looking at the world. In the 100 photographs at the heart of light wine things, Culbert’s noticing eye records encounters between light and objects in landscapes from Texas, to Provence, to Port Chalmers. Wheels, wine glasses, cans, lampshades, railings, chairs – the objects that Culbert finds in these places may look plain and undistinguished at first glance. But Culbert discovers in them evidence of the physical transformations and poetic paradoxes that he seeks in his own sculptures. Light falling through a wine glass prints the illusion of a light bulb on a tabletop. The water in a vessel turns the whole world upside-down, as if in a giant eye. Collected and stilled by Culbert and his camera, plain things disclose whole histories of human invention and improvisation.

The beauty of Culbert’s photography is that it offers not just things to look at, but a way to look at things – a delighted and patient regard for ordinary objects.

The installation component to this exhibition provides the viewer with a three-dimensional experience of Culbert’s unique perspectives.

Andrea Schlieker, a freelance curator and lecturer, has written, 'Culbert is best known for making hybrids of ordinary domestic objects - wine glass, stool, jug or table, thus forming illuminating (in both senses of the word) and surreal fusions... Yet these bricolages always have a lightness of touch, as well as a sense of humour and playful serendipity.'

The exhibition is accompanied by a colour poster as well as an exquisite hardback book which reproduces the entire 100 photographs exhibited, available for purchase ($29.95) from the Art Museum.

Exhibition avaliable to view online @:


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