Luminary I Luminare, 2022, installation shot, Palazzo Bembo, Venice, Italy
Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and your practice?
My practice is based in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, New Zealand. I work across media including sculpture, installation, photography, video, light and sound. My area of interest is in the intersection of art with spiritual experience, in particular human experiences of the numinous - liminal experiences, felt rather than seen, of the unseen and unknown. I create artworks in unexpected and alternative exhibition spaces such as outdoors sites and sites of worship – as well as gallery spaces – that offer the viewer the potential for an experience of the intangible.
Why did you choose to exhibit in Personal Structures and what does it mean for you to be part of this ECC's exhibition in Venice?
I’m delighted to be involved with Personal Structures in Venice. It’s an ideal place for presenting my work as it engages with the contemporary art-spiritual dialogue which has been active in Venice for many years. Personal Structures also provides a high quality, international exhibition opportunity in the global art community which is not readily available to me from Aotearoa New Zealand.
How does your work relate to the concept of reflections? What reflections are you presenting and bringing forward at this exhibition?
Luminary I Luminare invites the viewer to reflect on the vastness of space, the cosmos and celestial events while being enveloped in sound and light. There’s opportunity for inward reflection and connection with what is beyond that which they can see; for viewers to step into a liminal moment of encounter with the unseen and unknown. The viewer is also invited to reflect on balance in their lives and their world, and to consider the reality of the unseen spiritual realm.
In your installation, spirituality takes a central role. What is spirituality for you and how do you think it is defined in today's world?
Spirituality has many different definitions in our world. I find the numinous in nature, people, and beauty. These point me to a creator and lover of humanity who is an always and everywhere present spirit beyond myself but also within myself. This presence shapes my thinking and living and the work I make as I seek to flourish and enable others to do so through my work.
How is the spiritual and spirituality represented in your installation?
The universal symbol of the sphere is a spiritual symbol that denotes infinity and for some the divine. In my work, the sphere seems to float and hover in space defying gravity, and overcoming natural limitations, much like the cosmic bodies in our galaxy and beyond. This leads us beyond what we might have already known or experienced, to a sense of cosmic wonder. On a physical level, multi-sensory and immersive experiences are often liminal and numinous places where the spiritual reveals itself and can be accessed.
In your opinion, how can art help and bring us closer to one's spirituality and beliefs?
Art can transcend communication and create potential for an inter-subjective exchange with the viewer. This is very similar to the therapeutic process that happens between a counsellor and a client during therapy. Within this exchange, a heightened awareness can bring new ways of sensing, feeling, and being with ourselves and our experiences. If we are open to it, we can access new insights, understanding and thinking. The unseen and unknown can be illuminated to those who are willing and open to perceive and understand.
What triggered your attention to the celestial and the cosmos? How is this present in your work?
I have always loved the stars and the night sky. They hold a profound sense of mystery and beauty for me. This early fascination was triggered during a visit to Museum of Natural History in New York in 2012 when I saw a NASA video of images from space and around our galaxy.
This is amplified in my work over recent years. Initially I worked with mirror steel spheres, hanging from large trees. These evolved into veiled, suspended spheres with the enigmatic soundtrack from space. I’m also working with lumen photographic prints that use light from the sun to create images of the vast cosmos.
Can visitors find traces of New Zealand in your work?
While Aotearoa New Zealand isn’t obvious in my work, the conceptual underpinnings are informed by both western art historical influences (NZ and European) and by te ao Māori, indigenous New Zealand Māori culture and understanding. Te ao Māori concepts that I draw on include: Te Kore - the world beyond which is the void or realm of potential being; Te Ao, light, and Te Pō, darkness; and Te Ao Mārama - the movement from nothingness and darkness to the world of light and life.