Starlight and Rainbows at Britomart Project Space
Keen-eyed visitors to Britomart will have noticed a new art work now on display at Britomart Project Space on Customs Street East.
‘Crack the Skye’ by Auckland-based artist Andrew McLeod is the latest work to be exhibited in the mini-gallery, located in the window facade of Stanbeth House.
Andrew’s vast 1.8 x 4-metre oil on linen canvas features a vivid background of rainbow stripes enmeshed with an intricate pattern of koru. The foreground is surreally furnished with details ranging from plants and birds to a miniature armchair and an anglepoise lamp.
So what’s it all about, we asked him.
“It’s a poetic tribute to astronomical spectroscopy,” Andrew told us, initially leaving us none the wiser. But he goes on to explain.
“I’m interested in how scientists can read the absorption lines in the light from a star to work out what the star is made of. Different elements from the periodic table have different wavelengths. It’s this completely amazing scientific thing and I wanted to provide an artistic response to that.”
Drawing on tradition
Refraction of light in the form of rainbows is a motif that recurs throughout Andrew’s work, which is known for its eclecticism of subject matter and diversity of style.
“Newton worked out how light could be broken down into the colours of the rainbow hundreds of years ago, but 20th century science can tell much more. They can tell it’s hydrogen burning in space billions of miles away!”
Other familiar elements such as the Gordon Walters-esque koru designs provide him with a personal way to tackle such ethereal subjects.
“How do you approach a rainbow? I use what’s available to me – the long tradition of painting before me, elements like contemporary abstraction, surrealism and symbolism – as a way in.”
The detail in the foreground of ‘Crack the Skye’ is a kind of collage from his own drawings – ‘bits of interiors,’ he says – which in turn draw on a long tradition of domestic detail in European painting.
“There’s wallpaper, furniture, the kind of plants you might have in your house, figures – I just used what I had.”
Andrew graduated from Elam in 1998 and has since exhibited extensively in New Zealand and overseas. In 2009 and 2010 his studio was located at Britomart, in Masonic House above fashion boutique Made.
When he was invited to exhibit at Britomart Project Space, he chose the large-scale canvas ‘Crack the Skye’ from his own personal collection. Happily, it was a perfect fit.
Andrew’s work is on display at Britomart Project Space from May to August 2011, courtesy of Ivan Anthony Gallery. You can see more of his work here.
Created 12 May 2011