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Art goes Country at Christchurch Art Gallery

Art goes Country at Christchurch Art Gallery

Serious art meets country culture in a new take on one of Canterbury’s favourite rural traditions – the Canterbury A & P Show – at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu from this Friday, 10 November.

In A & P Show – Art Goes Country, the Gallery celebrates the spirit of rural New Zealand in an exhibition that also captures something of the festive mood of the A & P Show.

This Saturday (11 November), a Gala Day at the Gallery brings to the centre of Christchurch a fanfare of traditional showtime entertainment, including wood chopping, sheep shearing, and spinning and weaving.

Christchurch Art Gallery director Jenny Harper says that this exhibition is a fine way for the Gallery’s programme to link in with other events of importance in the life of Cantabrians.

“The work included in this special exhibition provides a fascinating insight into rural culture and brings back personal memories of the A & P shows of my childhood. I cannot wait to see live sheep eating the grass beside Montreal Street next weekend – it will create quite a buzz for motorists and pedestrian visitors alike.”

While the exhibition brings together a diverse selection of artworks, including some significant historical works from the Gallery’s own collection, the emphasis is on work by contemporary and emerging New Zealand artists, says exhibition curator Ken Hall.

“The Gallery’s A & P Show allows an important part of this country’s collective experience to be considered in thought-provoking and lively ways.

“Farming has come to shape and symbolise much of this country’s identity, and those who work the land are typified as holding a strong sense of identification and belonging,” he says.

“With questions of cultural identity having long been a preoccupation for New Zealand artists, it should not be surprising to see how many have connected with a pastoral experience of the land.”

A highlight of the exhibition will be Slovenian-born artist Gregor Kregar’s live sheep installation on the Gallery’s forecourt for the three days of Show Weekend (17 to 19 November). ‘Matthew 12:12 Live’ consists of 12 sheep dressed in brightly coloured woollen body suits, enclosed in a white picket fence. Inside the Gallery, the artist’s project continues with an installation of 144 slip cast ceramic sheep.

Hall says that “Kregar has described sheep as ‘usually aesthetically invisible beings’,” and that he is “intentional in the ambiguity connected to these works. While the live installation is provocative and surprising, his ceramic installation strikes an equally memorable note, and is almost commemorative, leaving the impression of a mass of strange souvenirs from a tourist or garden shop.”

“Christchurch artist Jacquelyn Greenbank, meanwhile, allows sheep to provide the raw materials for her work, with imagination, skill and off-the-wall humour doing the rest.

“Tea Party (2005) is a life-sized, knitted and crocheted sculptural installation depicting a table laden with Kiwi fare. Royal teapot, cups and carnations jostle with chipolatas, sandwiches and a pavlova. Within this context, the work seems to recall the morning tea tent at the classic rural show, crammed with farmers in dialogue and their cardiganed wives faithfully serving refreshments”.

Artworks in A & P Show will jostle for attention like prized livestock, and visitors will be welcomed to pick their own Best in Show. A & P Show – Art Goes County exhibition runs for just three weeks from 10 November to 3 December 2006. Admission free.

Associated Events Gallery Gala Saturday 11 November, noon to 2pm Celebrate the opening of the A & P Show with traditional Show Day activities such as wood chopping, sheep shearing, pony rides, and spinning and weaving.

Art Goes Country Montana Wednesday Evening 15 November 6pm An introduction to this exhibition by curator Ken Hall will be followed by Gregor Kregar discussing his live and ceramic sheep installations.

Feeling Sheepish 17 to 19 November Showing for three days only! ‘Matthew 12:12 Live’ by Gregor Kregar – a live installation of sheep dressed in colourful woollen garments

Pet Fancy Dress Sunday 26 November, 2pm Parade your pet in its finest threads or show off you and your pet’s similarities in the Owners Look-Alike category! This event will take place weather permitting, and all animals must be under control in cages or on a leash.


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