Sleight of Hand

Recent work by Dunedin artists

16 August 2014 - 16 November 2014

This exhibition, in its widest constructs, brings together a selection of artists currently producing work in Dunedin. Within this, the show explores detailed elements within both the works themselves and the diverse artistic practices including; a strong attention to detail, illusion, theatricality and transformation. Sleight of Hand includes works by Miranda Bellamy, Madeleine Child, Graham Fletcher, Mary McFarlane, Kathryn Madill, James Oram, Justin Spiers and Katrina Thompson.

Sleight of Hand is a term most commonly used to describe clever manual dexterity and deception when performing magic tricks. In Dariel Fitzkee’s 1944 book The Trick Brain he discusses nineteen fundamental effects in the successful secret manipulation of objects, such as cards and coins, including production, transformation, identification and control. The Sleight of Handexhibition employs this term to denote and hint at transformation and artistic control but also broader aesthetic concerns such as illusion, theatricality, manipulation, spacial awareness and a strong attention to detail. 

Some of the biggest trends in current contemporary art practice involve challenging the conventional art-and-spectator relationship; questioning the role and place of the artist in the production of the artwork; and placing the artist in the role of anthropologist. Through these ideas the works in Sleight of Handquestion the current world we live in by highlighting elements that are often overlooked; explores self-generation and environmental control; plays with illusionary space and the fine line between intention and luck; and utilises techniques that transform and manipulate materials. 

The subject matter, materials and varied methods of production that are showcased and examined in this exhibition include painting, printmaking, moving image, photography, installation, ceramics and sculpture. In its wider context Sleight of Hand provides a glimpse into the current Dunedin art scene, as the eight artists selected are currently living and producing work in Dunedin. It is an exciting proposition to bring together such a diverse group of artists, some of whom have never exhibited at the Gallery before. 

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