Beyond the Hedge

28 May 2022 - 20 November 2022

Beyond the Hedge is an invitation for your imagination to take a journey, enriched by knowledge and experience of folk tales, faerie tales, myths and legends. Children, adults and whānau can fall down their own ‘rabbit holes’ and consider an alternate reality. Connections to fictional friends and ideas - both new and familiar - can be made along the way.

This experience begins with the newly acquired Jim McMurtry (maquette), who lays across the Gallery foyer. Michael Parekōwhai’s gigantic inflatable rabbit acts as the exhibition’s herald and, just like Lewis Carroll’s white rabbit, will show you the way with a rhyming sequence inspired by Janet and Allan Ahlberg’s classic Each Peach Pear Plum. 

Falling down a rabbit hole won’t be necessary. Instead, follow the clues and climb the stairs past Oliver Perkins’ monumental painting on the Big Wall (reminiscent of the yellow brick road travelled by Dorothy and her friends in Oz) to arrive at Reuben Paterson’s The Golden Bearing. Paterson’s sculpture transforms a familiar space into one where visitors can pause to share stories and tell tales under a glittering canopy. Trees have long been associated with life and knowledge and when combined with stories have shaped our culture and understanding- after all it was Tane, atua of the forest, who first separated Rakinui and Papatūānuku to allow Te Ao Marama to emerge.

Travel beyond the safety of the tree to a garden full of mystery. Three steadfast companions patiently wait to offer company and advice along the way. There are choices to be made here. Who will your imagination take in hand? Will it be a dog, a mouse, or a little girl in her red riding-hood? What qualities do you seek in your own life’s travelling companions?

Within the Gallery, an instructive poem creates a different way to experience art works from the collection. These works are hung in groups that symbolise the power of three – a strategy that might be recognised from some famous stories, such as the Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the three Deathly Hallows from Harry Potter to name but a few. Smaller works are to be discovered through peep holes that encourage exploration and wonder. A number of these opportunities exist throughout the show, emerging as a motif proposing that alternate realities are close by and accessible if only one knows where to look.

Michael Parekōwhai’s sparrow Ed Green and Seung Yul Oh’s Dottori live in a hyper-real garden where you can peer through Haru Sameshima’s photograph to a garden just beyond. Oh’s acorn is a nod to all magical plants that have made adventures unfold - whether they be an apple laced with poison, a pea to test the worth of a princess, or beans that grow stalks to kingdoms in the sky. Dottori poses the question: “If you were to plant a magic seed what would you hope to grow?” With powers to tempt, transform and traverse Erica van Zon’s Flatto waits, concealed. As you approach the magical threshold, consider this: will you eat the peach? Will journeys progress despite the cautionary tales?

Who will be bold and discover how to master The Hedge? JS.02.03 The Hedge, by Hannah and Aaron Beehre, is a sound-activated projection that rewards curiosity and experimentation. Conquer the hedge and you may gain passage into a sphere outward and beyond the usual confines of the visible world. Choosing to drink from the miniature thermos, the visitor becomes the hero moving through the skewed reality of the enchanted garden inhabited by Margaret Dawson’s Rook. Corvus Frugilegus and plants and fruits both inviting and menacing. An alternate reality where imaginations are liberated, and the visitor is free to play with the ‘maybes’ and ‘what ifs?’.

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