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Exhibition manipulates gallery space

Exhibition manipulates gallery space

Canterbury University Fine Arts graduate Rachel Brunton expands the potential of the SOFA (School of Fine Arts) Gallery in her show Empire tc9, which opens at the gallery, in the Christchurch Arts Centre, on Wednesday 7 May.

Her projects initially develop out of an analysis of a given space, exploiting the opportunity to alter a room’s dimensions. Walls are frequently constructed within her projects to seemingly block out the gallery environment.

She says the decision to shift the dimensions of the room allows her to manipulate the psychological effect of the environment on the viewer; she uses this approach to transform where people are, so that like technology (the internet for example) people are put into a different psychological state.

Rachel Brunton creates all-encompassing fictional environments by fashioning new ways of experiencing and mapping technology and space. The traditional notion and circumstance of the art gallery seem incidental. Her projects are as comfortable developing in disused office blocks and warehouse basements as they are in an art galleries confines. She works habitually in claustrophobic conditions, objects lit by light in the darkness, the work seemingly secretive, hidden away in constructed rooms of their own. She uses pieces of broken and obsolete technology, pieces where the past implies the future.

The name for her show comes from a group set up to monitor how computers were entering society . . . “a sort of watchdog group”. She combined that with “empire” to in a playful reference to the “industrial age”.

Rachel Brunton was awarded the Ethel Susan Jones Fine Arts Travelling Scholarship in 2002. The scholarship is awarded to a Fine Arts student who has achieved excellence in studio courses, particularly in original composition. She will use it later this year to travel to Europe, with the focus on Germany, to visit projects that combine art, science and technology.

Empire tc9 by Rachel Brunton : SOFA Gallery, Christchurch Arts Centre, 7 May-1 June. Gallery hours Monday-Friday 11am-5pm, Saturday and Sunday 12noon-4pm. Website http:// http://www.sofagallery.ac.nz

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