From Across Bodies of Water and Other Transient Objects

14 MAR—27 MAY 2022 Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts / Main Galleries

Wesley John Fourie & Rozana Lee

In Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, Kublai Khan often contemplates the map of his conquest and of the promised lands, not yet discovered. His map illustrates continent by continent, the borders and various routes to reach them. The Great Khan asserts that countries are better described on the map as their shapes and boundaries are clearly defined. Marco Polo on the other hand observes that the map highlights the difference between countries, whereas travelling blurs the boundaries. He regards travelling as the best way to understand a place or a country. When one travels, the country takes shapeless or intangible qualities. All countries are interconnected one way or another; either through routes or shared qualities. The differences disappear.

The world map has been drawn and redrawn since it was created, affecting how people define identities, place, belonging, and structure political power in geographic terms. The increasing encroachment of humans on the natural environment and artificiality of places in which we live and work also mean that many of us have to make a conscious effort to experience wild places first hand. These places exist out there, independent of our thinking about them, yet so much of a person's, or people's core ideologies can be shaped by the land on where their feet first touched the earth. Can home be more than a place? How can place manifest in space through art? How do we ascribe value to place? This exhibition seeks to identify where transience and home can co-exist, as well as the connections or shared qualities between cross cultural identities through the vehicle of contemporary textiles and multi-media.

'Summer Rain' (still) Rozanna Lee, 2022
'Summer Rain' (still) Rozana Lee, 2022
'Like Fishes' Wesley John Fourie 2022
'Like Fishes' Wesley John Fourie 2022

Artist Biographies:

Wesley John Fourie is an artist based in Aotearoa New Zealand who’s work explores themes of nature, spirituality, and sexuality through use of textiles, often manifesting as large scale “soft sculptures”. Wesley John creates site specific textile installations that pay homage to each place in which they inhabit. Whether knitting the height of a mountain, a 1/100 scale of a river, the height of a waterfall, or the circumference of a body of water, Wesley John works to elevate these natural resources to divine status through art. These works act as shrine to their original bodies. Their work is predominantly textile based, though has also been written, performative, drawing, and painting. Wesley John sees art as a vehicle to raise awareness of the sacred status of our natural environment, and will often be found (when not in their studio) lost somewhere in the mountains or the forest. Due to an interest in spirituality, they have spent extended periods of time across the Indian subcontinent. Their work is held in private collections across New Zealand, India, Japan, Nepal, Germany, Italy, United States of America, and Australia.

Rozana Lee is of Indonesian-Chinese heritage. She moved to New Zealand in 2010, and based in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. She holds a Master of Fine Arts with First Class Honours from The University of Auckland (2018) and a Bachelor of Visual Arts from Auckland University of Technology (2015). Recent exhibitions include Crossings (Adam Art Gallery, Wellington, 2021), Birds from Another Continent (Papakura Art Gallery, Auckland, 2021), New Work (Melanie Roger Gallery, Auckland, 2020), Te Wheke: Pathways Across Oceania, (Christchurch Art Gallery, Christchurch, 2020-22), Home is Anywhere in the World, (Meanwhile, Wellington, 2020), Project 2020: Space as Substance (Auckland Art Fair, 2020), Future Flowering, (play_Station, Wellington, 2020), Reconfigure(d) (Making Space, Guangzhou, 2019), and Two Oceans at Once (St Paul St Gallery, Auckland, 2019). Lee has been a finalist in several art awards, including the Wallace Art Awards in 2018 and 2019, the Parkin Drawing Prize in 2016 and 2019 and Molly Morpeth Canaday Art Award in 2022, 2021, 2017 and 2015. She was the recipient of People’s Choice Award of National Contemporary Art Award 2021 and Estuary Art & Ecology Prize Awards 2018, and the Runner Up for Henrietta and Lola Anne Tunbridge Water Colour Award, 2018. She has undertaken artist residencies at Instinc, Singapore in 2016, and Making Space, Guangzhou, China, in 2019. Rozana was part of the curatorial team at Window Gallery, The University of Auckland (2020-2021).