Through utilising patterns in space, Hughes showcases the delight of crossing visual boundaries in everyday life. She is particularly interested in the transformative effect that art can have on our surroundings and explores this idea in her Britomart installation, Heat Haze.
Hughes works with acrylic paint, canvas and brush as well as computers, scanners and vinyl cutters, yet she chooses her modus operati with the work’s site specifically in mind. “I have an ongoing concern with the complexity of colour and the relationships between colour in art and colour in everyday life,” says Hughes. Much like her choice in technique, her choice in colour is also tied to time and site, heavily determined by the artwork’s environment.
Commissioned to enliven Britomart Lane, Heat Haze creates a vibrant landmark on what was once a dull corner of a busy thoroughfare. First, Hughes hand cut hyper-thin adhesive sign writing vinyl into horizontal strips. Coming from a painting background, it was important for her to inject a sense of handiwork back into a material which is usually reserved only for computers and commercial purposes. She then composed, layered and stuck the thousands of vinyl strips onto the glass with no preset – she likes the space she’s working in to guide her way.
When viewed closely, you’ll notice that some vinyl strips are transparent while others are opaque, when layered these create a multitude of tones and colours. Hughes likens this to dimensional painting and is particularly interested in the way that light activates the colours at different times of the day. When walking past Heat Haze in the morning the colour is unapologetically vivid and at night, the work’s jewel tones peek subtly through the darkness.
Hughes is no stranger in our city and has work scattered around our streets, adorning busses, lobbies and lanes. Her Heart of the City piece in Fort Lane features a spectacular burst of colour which references the architectural details of Auckland’s art deco and heritage sites. Like a sun burst, the heart is exploding with energy – a symbol of what everyday life has to offer.
Like Heart of the City, Heat Haze offers passersby a flash of optimistic colour and lively pattern. Hughes hopes that the work inspires the public with a sense of daily discovery with its ever-changing colour tones and reflective qualities, making the work look different every time you walk past.