Ridiculous Sublime

Nick Austin, Jane Dodd, Scott Eady, Rachel H. Allan

2 July 2016 - 24 October 2016

The distinct vision of a contemporary artist can offer a new lens through which to see our everyday – reshaping the intersections between the familiar, the ridiculous and the magnificent.  This exhibition brings together recent works by four contemporary New Zealand artists currently working in Dunedin – Nick Austin, Jane Dodd, Scott Eady and Rachel H. Allan.  Their diverging views offer opportunities to examine our relationships with everyday places, spaces, objects and materials – celebrating the absurd, re-valuing the ordinary, or escaping into fantasy.  

'The sublime and the ridiculous are often so nearly related that it is difficult to class them separately. One step above the sublime makes the ridiculous and one step above the ridiculous makes the sublime again.'

Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason: Part II. c1795

The distinct vision of a contemporary artist can offer a new lens through which to see our everyday – reshaping the intersections between the familiar, the ridiculous and the magnificent.  The spaces we inhabit, the things we wear, the objects we encounter and the way we think can all be revised through art; disrupting expectations, challenging perceptions and encouraging different ways of seeing. 

This exhibition brings together recent works by four New Zealand artists, all presently working in Dunedin.  Although each has an independent practice, there is common ground how their work prompts a reconsideration of subjects, materials or processes that might seem commonplace or innocuous. 

Nick Austin is a key figure in the most recent generation of New Zealand artists, recognised for his wry perspective and poetic observations.  Scott Eady challenges the heroic tendencies of large-scale sculpture using materials and forms from his domestic experiences, while Rachel H. Allan subverts expectations as she tests the limits of different modes of image production.  Jane Dodd is well-known for her distinctive jewellery practice, drawing out the battle lines between nature and culture and paying tribute the natural world.

Nick Austin completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts from Auckland University of Technology in 2001, followed by a Master of Fine Arts at Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, in 2004. In 2012 he was awarded the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship at the University of Otago, and since this time has remained living in Dunedin. 

Austin's practice extends across a range of media, with a focus on painting and drawing. His work often explores ordinary, familiar subjects – proposing new ways of seeing and understanding the objects and activities of everyday life. Austin's work has been exhibited widely, and is held in contemporary art collections including Auckland Art Gallery, Te Papa Tongarewa and Dunedin Public Art Gallery.

Jane Dodd trained as a jeweller in Auckland in the early 1990s, following which she joined the influential jewellery collective Workshop 6.  From this context she established an independent studio practice, distinct for her technical skill and unique formal language.  While her early practice was focussed largely on working in metals, most recently Dodd has been exploring a wider range of materials extending across bone, shell, stone and wood.  

In 2009 Dodd returned to her hometown of Dunedin, and she continues to exhibit her work throughout New Zealand and internationally.  Her current body of work explores the tensions between historic decorative traditions and the natural world from which materials are largely drawn. 

Scott Eady undertook his Bachelor and Master degrees in Fine Arts at Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, graduating in 1999. Since this time, he has developed a significant practice centred on large-scale sculpture, with works held in public collections including the Chartwell Collection, James Wallace Arts Trust, Te Papa Tongarewa, The Dowse Art Museum and Dunedin Public Art Gallery. 

Eady has a long-standing interest in the changing notions of masculinity and stereotypes, often making works that challenge the preconceptions surrounding traditions of monumental or heroic sculpture.  Childhood and the domestic experience are also recurrent themes, and Eady's works often expose, incorporate or respond to the objects, materials and language of the domestic environment. 

Rachel H. Allan completed her Master of Fine Art degree at Dunedin School of Art in 2013, where she is now a lecturer in photography and electronic arts. Allan has exhibited her work nationally and internationally, and as a member of The Dark Light Art Collective she undertook the first artist residency offered at the Hone Tuwhare Trust in Kaka Point (2014).  

Allan's research practice is wide-ranging, extends from traditional, darkroom-based processes through to digital and alternative liquid photography.  Her work deals with restraint, curiosity and mimicry, and she is interested in using her work to challenge perceptions of reality, and to explore the fetishisation of processes and objects. 

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