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Artists homesick at home

16 June

Artists homesick at home

In their Toi Pōneke exhibition, Jessica Hubbard and Negin Dastgheib bring together the results of two obsessions the artists explored during their final year at Massey School of Fine Arts. Here we are…home, at last creates a single exhibition which examines the heartfelt longing that today’s global movement can produce in those that leave behind another culture.

NZ-born Negin has been reconstructing her own sense of the world through her Iranian parents, the comfort of their large family and a common culture. She has done this since college age, from old family photographs taken before the Iranian revolution when life looked hopeful. Hubbard has recreated her own experience of Japan, a place she still gets homesick for.

Jessica moved to Japan after a friend offered her a job on the completion of her BA. Knowing nothing of the culture or the language she wandered through two and half years mesmerised, overstimulated, charmed, and ambivalent. Like many who have lived in and left Japan she holds onto a complicated nostalgia for the culture.

Jessica’s work draws on Hiroshige’s nineteenth century woodcut series, 53 Stations of the Tokkaido as well as Japanese architectural design, kimono making, Google maps and her own photographs. Her work incorporates handmade paper cuts which illustrate a calm and charming journey through both Hiroshige’s world and contemporary Japan.

Negin’s family moved to New Zealand in the mid 80's after the Iranian Revolution. Her father received a scholarship at Lincoln University and they set up a new life in the South Island. Although she was born and raised as a Kiwi she grew up listening to stories of Iran told by her grandmother who moved between Iran, America and New Zealand, and was encouraged to take part in Iranian traditions and customs. Finally, after visiting Iran at eighteen, a connection and desire was formed to learn more about her scattered family and to reconnect with her parent’s motherland.

Negin paints from old photographs of her family before and during the revolution in Iran. The images are of simple family outings yet convey subtle feelings of unease, the colours just a bit too cheerful and bright.

Artists have explored concepts and symbols of ‘home’ for centuries, like Cézanne with his repeated, almost obsessive, paintings of Mont Sainte-Victoire. Jodie Dalgleish, Arts Advisor for the Council says that, “Jessica and Negin, express a similar kind of longing, where two young women explore their connection with cultures they have never ‘properly’ been a part of, and that they are now apart from. In this exhibition, they manifest their own obsessions and touch on the complexities of homeliness and belonging in a contemporary global context.”

The exhibition is a combination of bold colourful modernist painting, large handcrafted paper cuts and a quiet digital video projection. It comes together as an installation that incorporates a journey through the room and an insight into two people’s perceptions of two cultures that a part of them longs to call home.

Jessica has co-created a participatory exhibition at 30 Upstairs and co-edits Enjoy’s Occasional Journal, where she is showing her work next month. Negin has exhibited with Gap Filler in Christchurch and has exhibited at Matchbox Studios with her show, Figures in the Fields.

Here we are…home, at last opens at 5.30pm on Thursday, 3 July 2014 at Toi Pōneke Gallery, 61 Abel Smith Street.

For some examples of Negin’s work you can go to

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