19 July 2008 - 7 December 2008
The reference points for this site-responsive installation by Christine Hellyar are diverse and numerous. Hellyar, since the early seventies, has been assiduously working with the material culture that was collected and recorded on Captain Cook’s three voyages to the Pacific in the 18th century. This interest was honed during the last decade, with the artist photographing and drawing objects in key Cook collections around the world and reading journals written by various people on these voyages. This research eventually saw the production of the seminal installation Mrs Cook’s Kete (in association with Maureen Lander) that was in the Pitt-Rivers Museum in Oxford, England in 2002.
While Fishing reflects Hellyar’s research into the historical and cultural aspects of the first contacts between European and Pacific peoples, this reading is always framed by an artistic sensibility. There is an understanding of materials, colour and pattern in this wall work that speaks as much to the elements of an art realm as it does to the articles that the artist has unearthed in museums. This brightly coloured web of flax, wool and hibiscus, zigzags back and forth, anchoring a great expanse to a unified visual field and at the same time oscillating it at irregular intervals, creating patches of bloom and moments of intense fagility.
Christine Hellyar has always been interested in the intersection between the profane and the sacred. This is a fascination that has seen Hellyar producing a richly layered and deeply evocative practice.