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Bill Culbert: Groundworks at Govett-Brewster

Bill Culbert: Groundworks

8 March – 18 May 2008

Eminent New Zealand artist Bill Culbert leads audiences through an exploration of light, shadows and perception in a new exhibition Groundworks at New Plymouth’s Govett-Brewster Art Gallery from 8 March to 18 May 2008.

This occasion marks the first significant presentation of Culbert’s work in this country since the 1997 touring exhibition Lightworks and presents three large-scale installations to New Zealand audiences for the first time. Two of these installations will be created especially for Groundworks.

Culbert’s installations see the transformation of domestic debris into poetic vehicles for ideas and states of being. Working with materials such as light bulbs, fluorescent tubes, plastic bottles, lampshades and suitcases, Culbert explores the dynamic interplay between light and shadow, between luminescence, space and visual perception.

Govett-Brewster Director and exhibition curator Rhana Devenport describes Culbert as “a conjurer of light”.

“Deftly articulated, his installations harness ordinary light sources and exist as reminders of the power of material transience and immaterial imagination,“ she says.

The two new works are View West Taranaki and Flat Lighthouse. View West Taranaki, employees a collection of recycled Samsonite-style suitcases, sourced through a nationwide appeal, and electric lighting. Flat Lighthouse, uses demolition materials and devices concerned with daylight within a building, which will be lit by interior artificial lighting.

Flotsam 1992, first exhibited in Europe and last year at the Institute of Modern Art in Brisbane, sees a slick of discarded plastic bottles and fluorescent lights across the gallery floor.

Culbert began working with light as a medium in the late 1960s. Trained as a painter, he saw it as a way of extending beyond the constraints of a canvas. Since this time, through photography and installation Culbert’s extensive body of work has offered a consistent exploration of light and shadow in a poetic and personal way.

Devenport says, “Bill Culbert has been an ever-present source of inspiration to generations of artists in New Zealand, England and France“.

Born in Port Chamers, Otago, Culbert has lived between London and the South of France for over fifty years. He has exhibited widely in Europe, Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand often working in vast scale. Within New Zealand his works include the neon piece SkyBlue 2006 in Wellington’s Post Office Square and a recent collaboration with Ralph Hotere, Void 2006, which inhabits a multi-storey space within Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington.

This exhibition will be accompanied by a programme of public events including talks by Culbert himself, writer and critic Ian Wedde, and a sound performance by artist Andrew Clifford responding to these new works. A catalogue will be forthcoming.

Also showing:

Francis Upritchard: New Zealand Artist in Residence

Rainwob I

1 March – 18 May 2008

Jayce Salloum: International Artist in Residence

everything and nothing and other works from the ongoing project ‘untitled’, and recent fragments/works

8 March – 25 May 2008

Len Lye: A portrait gallery

8 March – 18 May 2008


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