The Power of Colour

2 July 2024

Colour is all around us. It can mean one thing to one person and something totally different culturally and emotionally to another.  What a colour means to someone could be linked to who they are, where they are, and their previous knowledge and life experiences. There are nuances to the language used to express colour – red could be described as strawberry, scarlet, ruby, rose, crimson, or tomato – adjectives by which we can give children more words to explore their world and express themselves.

In A Painter’s Palette, the latest show in the Whānau Gallery, DPAG’s Jen Boland explores many ideas. These extend from artists' choices, to what colours mean to us and how we experience them differently, to the importance of giving children an opportunity to convey their voice.

When asked, Jen can't pick a favourite work from this new show, because to her each piece is just as important as the other. She does however have a connection to one particular work – Scott Eady’s Red Bike. This is from an installation created in 2011-12, in which Scott liberated bikes and scooters from the dump and transformed them in to the works they are today. 

At the time, Jen was teaching at The Dowse and had the privilege and joy of focusing her art education programmes around the 50 bikes and scooters as part of Eady’s interactive exhibition 100 Bikes Project: Part 1.  Through her education programmes, Jen had the opportunity to teach akonga how to ride those bikes and scooters in the actual gallery space.  A further connection was discovered during installation of A Painter's Palette when DPAG Gallery Technician Chris Schmelz spoke fondly of his time working with Eady to build the bikes including the one now proudly displayed in the show, although in this instance, firmly fixed to a wall.

A Painter’s Palette weaves together colour theory, the social and cultural histories of colour, and the magical moment of discovery that occurs when we mix primary colours together. This extends to complementary colours and how they would be represented on a colour wheel. A hard feat given the Whānau Gallery is a rectangle as opposed to a circle. 

Open now and showcasing works from Saskia Leek, Jeffrey Harris, Gretchen Albrecht, Michael Parekōwhai, Billy Apple, Nina Katchadourian and more – it’s exciting to know that when you start to mix, three basic colours can soon become six!

Noho ora mai
Rachel Cooper
Audience Development Manager
Dunedin Public Art Gallery

[Photograph: Jen Boland, DPAG Educator, in the exhibition, A Painter's Palette]

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