Anne Noble floor talk this Friday
Anne Noble floor talk this Friday 5.30pm
Anne Noble is an eloquent speaker. Come and hear her talk about her new passion for beekeep-ing and its representation in her art. We will give you a glass of wine and you can also ask questions. Anne's new exhibition Nature Study is a stunning new body of work and not to be missed.
“...Attuned to the visual poetic potential of the material Noble touches the mystery.” Mark Amery. See below for Mark's review of the exhibition recently published on The Big Idea
Floor talk Friday night 20 February, 5.30 for 5.45pm start.
Pollinating Ideas by Mark Amery
… Meantime on Wellington’s Ghuznee Street, there’s a billboard covered by a seething, but stilled black mass of bees. A photographic image for the city’s ‘worker bees’, the work is outside Bartley and Company gallery and part of established photographic artist Anne Noble’s exhibition Nature Study. Titled ‘In the Dead of Night’, it retains the seductive surface gloss of advertising but its dark visual poetry (so intense it almost seems to secrete a musk) is something else entirely.
At first the title and the life of the image make me think it’s a night shot, the darkness within the hive. Then I realise the operative word in the title is ‘dead’. In contrast to the glow and ooze of honey, de-ceased bees turn as black and brittle as charcoal. In memory of the fallen, a mass graveyard, a city colony collapsed.
For years Anne Noble’s research and photography focused on our relationship with Antarctica. Now she turns to bees. Both are subjects at the heart of our environmental crisis, our need to redress a balance. Both visually explore forms and ideas on the edge of our perception and understanding, bringing art and science into closer relationship.
When I view Noble’s work a hush always seems to descend. States of Grace was the apt title of a survey exhibition 13 years ago. There is a care and gentleness given to what the world provides the camera. In stilling and quietening the world - amongst the barrage of image noise out there - with her treatment of surface Noble’s work can touch ethereality, a mystery beyond. Pushing the way we see things in new ways, her work asks us in turn to reconsider how we view our relationship with the world.
A beekeeper herself, in Nature Study Noble challenges perceptions of what a photographic artist looks at, with close up photographs of bee anatomy using scientific specimen slides, a home-made microscope and electronic scanning microscopes. The care of the scientist meets that of the artist. Attuned to the visual poetic potential of the material Noble touches the mystery.
Most dramatic is a black framed, ghostly yet sharply detailed scan of a dead bee, ‘Dead Bee Portrait #3’. To the fore in the light are the strong yet ragged wings, still crackling with energy, the worn body of solo worker bee elevated to heroic, iconic status. In another series, hovering delicately in deep white frames old slides of bee wings have been printed as tintypes onto aluminium plates. The emulsion sees their dark skeletal forms float in a painterly fluid, the rich cracked and speckled sur-faces providing a rich patina of time, through which the history of photography and nature study dance.
These and the portrait are exquisite meditations, but they don’t move me. What does is a series of large colour images, ‘Eidolon’ where the translucent wings of bees overlap in movement, glistening rainbow pearl and blurring in and out of abstraction. Rather than trapped in time as specimens, these wings are in movement in the environment, alive to the imagination.
Surreally, I imagine the artist in her garden, her head joyously in a swarm. They make me feel air-borne, enfolded within an interior space looking out to the blue beyond. An Eidolon is a spirit image, and these phantom wings wrap around, placing us in a prism through which we might appreciate more closely the delicate mystery of the world we are a part of.