Gallery Talk

Ground Speed

23 August · Sally
Ground Speed
Misma Andrews, Quiet earth

Groundspeed or ground speed: “the speed of an airborne aircraft relative to the ground it traverses in a given period of time”. Curated by film-maker Ed Lust groundspeed, City Art’s current exhibition of works by Katrina Lilly, Misma Andrews and Alex Porter, introduces or identifies an element of uncertainty into the landscape as characterised by uncanny but beguiling shifts in place and time.

Wellington photographer Misma Andrews stages an almost theatrical exploration of New Zealand’s wild places in what she describes as the ‘synchronistic collaboration with the unknown’ that occurs when negatives are soaked and burned. Such processes combine an alchemic serendipity – the “happy accident” – with a sense of mythic enchantment associated with the careful positioning of people and animals within these pockets of non-specific wilderness. There is an element of fairytale, make-believe, old stories of the supernatural in these unsettled and poignant images.

After six years working abroad University of Canterbury-trained photographer Katrina Lilly returned to Christchurch in 2011. Her work in this exhibition combines the skill of the photographer with the aesthetic of the painter, using different combinations of aperture and shutter speed, moving the camera or shooting subjects in motion (or – even trickier – doing both at the same time) to evoke the colour, form and texture of the painted surface. The result is a dynamic translation of the sea and landscape into fleeting movement and the strange flexing of light and patterns.

The title of Christchurch film-maker Alex Porter’s short film, N or Nor W, pays homage to New Zealand artist Len Lye and his black and white “public information films”, in particular N or NW (1937) commissioned by the General Post Office of Great Britain. Porter appropriates the title sequence of Lye’s film and his stream of consciousness-styled narrative. Set in 1950s Canterbury, the theme of the nor’wester, steeped in science, pseudo-scientific myth-making and regional identity, is explored from a young girl’s perspective and through her father’s interview broadcast over the wireless. The result is a finely crafted lyrical representation of mid-century rural New Zealand and broadcasting.

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