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André we hardly knew you

André we hardly knew you

The James Logie Memorial Collection at the Classics Department of the University of Canterbury is recognised as one of the finest collections of Greek and Roman antiquities in the southern hemisphere. It consists of nearly 3000 material fragments of mainly Mediterranean culture including amphoras and vases.

This year, eight artists were invited to make new works for an exhibition consisting of eight objects from the Logie collection alongside individual responses. Neil Pardington, Francis Upritchard, Liyen Chong, Marian Maguire, Reuben Paterson, Sara Hughes and Jamie Richardson were selected for the strength of their work, along with their ability to offer up the unexpected.

Curator Ken Hall says “All the artists rose to the challenge and in every instance have made new works that sit convincingly alongside their usual range of production.

“In making links with objects from antiquity, however, they have created lively juxtapositions as well as thoughtful encounters with both the present and the ancient past,’’ Hall says. “Interestingly, most of the new works hold a serious tone, although this is not surprising, given that all of the selected objects would have been discovered in burial sites and half of these with a direct funerary role.’’

Local artist Jamie Richardson has found a fast growing fan-base in mainly non-establishment art spaces for his wayward sculptural characters, says Hall.

“Drawing inspiration from selective sub-cultural sources such as comics, anime, low-fi video games and cable wrestling, Richardson squares up here to the most internationally-known object in the collection, a 6th century BC black-Figure amphora depicting popular Athenian entertainment.

The amphora shows five bearded men on stilts, probably actors representing giants. Richardson’s response is to produce a generous cuddly sculpture paying homage to the wrestler Andre the Giant, a colossal presence on television and movie screens from the 70s to the 90s, says Hall.

“It’s the sideshow souvenir every Athenian bruiser would have wanted to take home.’’

Christchurch Art Gallery director Jenny Harper says the exhibition combines ancient and contemporary art works in a challenging way, celebrating both the past and the present.

Of Deities and Mortals is at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu from 16 November 2007 until 16 February 2008. admission free.

ends

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