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Jonathan Jones lights up Auckland Art Gallery Atrium

20 March 2014

Jonathan Jones lights up Auckland Art Gallery Atrium

Indigenous Australian artist Jonathan Jones is set to light up Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki’s North Atrium with a work comprising more than 80 precisely spaced fluorescent lights from Sunday 23 March, 2014.

This up-scaled version of the Sydney-based artist’s work, untitled (sum of the parts), manipulates fluorescent battens to create dynamic plays of light and shadow. While the cross-hatching and chevron motifs created from the lights may appear as Western minimalism, for Jones they refer to the traditional Aboriginal concerns of country and community. The designs are based upon the carved patterning of Koori (south-eastern Aboriginal) shields and the markings on possum-skin cloaks, cloaks which reference the customary traditions of Jones’ ancestors.

The work was acquired by the Chartwell Collection of contemporary art in 2010 and for this installation it will be radically up-scaled to fill the south wall of the impressive 14.7 metre-high atrium of the Gallery. The work, which is visible from the street, complements the coinciding exhibition My Country: Contemporary Art from Black Australia. The work will remain on display for audiences throughout the year.

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki director, Rhana Devenport, says Jonathan Jones' untitled (sum of the parts) is an ideal work for the Gallery's high-profile atrium space, and firmly places Indigenous art in the spotlight.

‘We are thrilled that Jones accepted our invitation to reconfigure his piece on a dramatic and complex scale for this central and highly visible space. A re-working was always the hope of the artist and now is the right time for this project to be realised by the Gallery in conjunction with three major exhibitions of indigenous art from Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia.

‘Jonathan Jones is an impressive and prolific artist, a member of the Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi nations of south-east Australia, and creates works in many mediums. His illuminated site-specific works are both visually stunning and hauntingly beautiful as they explore Indigenous concepts and relationships.'

Auckland Art Gallery Curator – Contemporary Art, Stephen Cleland says the Gallery approached Jones to develop the work specifically for this highly ambitious and challenging venue.

‘Jonathan Jones is renowned for his light works, having completed several major public art commissions in Australia. The Gallery offers an outstanding space in the North Atrium to present his first architectural work in New Zealand on this scale.’

Archimedia and Holmes Consulting Group, the New Zealand-based architects and engineers who worked on the Gallery’s award-winning restoration and expansion with Australian architecture firm Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp, were brought on board to assist the realisation of the artwork. This involved the design and installation of a cantilevered ‘floating wall’ to support the criss-crossed lights.

The work is set to light up on Sunday 23 March and will be on display until early 2015. This exhibition is supported by the Chartwell Trust and the Auckland Contemporary Art Trust.

This coincides with Jones’ free artist talk on Sunday 23 March in the Atrium at Auckland Art Gallery where he will discuss his wider body of work.

For more information about the artist visit

Cnr Kitchener and Wellesley Streets
PO Box 5449 Wellesley Street,
Auckland 1141, New Zealand


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