Compendia – Group Show
Christchurch artist Sharnaé Beardsley, a graduate from the Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design, uses a detailed process of ink pointillism and watercolour in her meticulous juxtapositions of botanical forms with the very human desire to control, manipulate and cultivate nature, infusing the realism of scientific illustration with an exaggerated, almost surreal evocation of cultivated beauty. In the works shown here Sharnaé takes as her subject the orchid, a symbol of the relationship between nature and culture. In exaggerating the various aspects of the orchid she draws our attention to the seductive strangeness of a world constantly adapting, and being adapted, through the processes of natural survival and the artifice of contrived beauty.
“These works cross the boundary between what we as humans control and play with and what nature itself, in particular orchids, create and evolve to ensure its own survival, in achieving pollination and reproduction. The works all present the function and varied positions of the Labellum, a landing platform for insect pollinators in orchids, celebrating the roles attraction and symmetry play in nature” – Sharnaé Beardsley, 2014
Matthew Le Roi
Matthew Le Roi, a Fine Arts Honours student at the University of Canterbury, uses a range of traditional drawing, digital and photographic techniques in his meticulous depictions of New Zealand honey bees. Influenced by pre-photographic natural history illustration and contemporary scientific publications, he begins by photographing specimens under the supervision of researchers at Canterbury Museum in a process lasting up to an hour as the camera focuses first on the details of the bee, capturing a high-resolution image, before progressing down until it has captured every detail of the specimen. This is followed by a further process to achieve a highly detailed low-resolution image which can then by digitally cut and painted. He then applies traditional illustration techniques, including the application of natural shellac derived from insect secretions, to the printed image, effectively juxtaposing entomological research, artistic illustration and digital manipulation.
“The purpose is to show a marriage of ideas and practices between science and art, by using both ‘traditional’ and contemporary practices in responding to my subject” – Matthew Le Roi, 2014
Since graduating from the Otago Polytechnic School of Art Christchurch artist Robyn Webster has explored the history, tradition and artistic possibilities inherent in harakeke (flax). From making traditional Maori kono and whaariki she has extended her scholarship in this area through her involvement with the Biopolymer Network, under the umbrella of AgResearch and the National Harakeke Collection.
In her current practice Robyn applies the natural flexibility, rigidity and tension of her chosen medium to a series of delicate,
ephemeral sculptural works. While embedded in the traditions of knotting, twisting, plaiting and weaving, these works also break tradition in an ongoing process of experimentation that transforms, mimics, prints from and makes shadows with the sacred plant.
“I seek to explore an area that is entirely localised, that is in fact all about rootedness. Thematically, I am interested in how it represents a feminine alternative; the ancient, earth-bound and hand-made arising from low tech, environmentally sound materials. Through my work with this plant, I feel I have found my thread in the labyrinth” – Robyn Webster, 2014.
Christchurch artist Liv Worsnop works with and on the edges of the natural ecologies of the city. After completing her Bachelor in Fine Arts at the University of Canterbury she started Plant Gang, an environmentally minded project focussing on subtle regenerative actions within post-quake Christchurch. Plant Gang has implemented a number of projects, including catalogues of weeds in the CBD, a Zen Garden, site clean-ups and guerrilla gardens. Liv has also sustained a more conceptual practice focusing on the way we function within the world. This idea harnesses process, interaction and awareness to speak to a more mindful and present way of living.
“This series of drawings is created from material that exist on the edges of my movements and interactions. They are scans of waste materials or those that have been used in the past but now live a dormant life. The linear and cyclic aspects of how we operate within the world permeate each object, providing each drawing with a value that is enhanced by these unseen aspects” – Liv Worsnop, 2014