(b. Auckland, New Zealand, 1980; lives and works in
Auckland, New Zealand)
COMMISSIONED BY Cuckoo
Kate Newby & Nick Austin, Hold Still, Auckland, 30 August 2008. Commissioned by Cuckoo for One Day
Sculpture. Photos: Stephen Rowe except for night image by Alex North
(click to enlarge)
Nick Austin & Kate Newby
If there are any places in the city that encourage you to notice what’s around you in a contemplative way, a public park is one.
Western Park / Rimutahi, between Ponsonby Road (the ridge whose old name, Rimutahi, came from a landmark giant rimu) and Freemans Bay / Waiatarau (the reclaimed land where, as the Maori name records, water once sparkled in an actual bay) combines this function of a park – as a place for recreational walking, wandering and thinking amongst the trees – with sports grounds, regularly used by the neighbouring high school.
Nick Austin and Kate Newby – collaborating for the first time at the invitation of Cuckoo – use sculpture and performance to underscore and to skew the idea of a view, the ways of looking around us that we’re used to, and so how we make sense of our surroundings, with their work Hold Still, that existed in the park from morning until evening for one of the last days of winter.
Both Auckland artists are noted for bold intelligence, but neither is given to large, loud, gestures with obvious impact. Instead, their work shares a quietness and slowness. Austin’s paintings and sculptures often seem like puzzles, combinations of objects and ideas that have the precision of a good joke or a striking coincidence that grows on you without ever resolving into a punchline. Similarly Newby’s constructions – that have included flags, and inscriptions in public space – don’t compete with the tone and style of commercial signage, but reveal themselves by being too ambiguous and too personal to be part of any campaign. Neither, then, is likely to offer us only an instant hit.
How does this slow-release approach work with the span of a single day? How does the gently made demands on our attention show up in a place already about looking?
The artists’ title, Hold Still, suggests a need for patience.
Kate Newby, from the On Buildings series, photograph, 2006 - ongoing
Appropriating the materials and languages of architecture, Kate Newby creates handmade, crudely constructed brick and wooden sculptural interventions that are simultaneously against and at-one with their disused urban environments. Drawing out both the physical and poetic energies of her materials Newby's work visualises an encounter and forefronts an action, collapsing and confusing the lines between process and product, doing and documentation.
Complimenting these larger-scale pieces, Newby's modest, temporal text works are thoughts made physical. Hand-drawn on flags, bricks, plaques and loose pieces of paper, seemingly independent of a speaker and receiver, Newby's isolated scraps of poetic language, or 'utterances', spur on the conversation already activated by her subtle manipulations of site.
Kate Newby has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in New Zealand and abroad, most recently completing the Masters Programme at Elam School of Fine Arts in 2007, with the project My Poetry. Recent exhibitions include: A Windy Fire, at Te Tuhi, Auckland; On the Benefits of Building at Gambia Castle, Auckland and Moment Making, the group exhibition curated by Laura Preston at Artspace, Auckland. In 2006 Newby exhibited in Silver Clouds, a project curated by Cuckoo in Melbourne, Australia, and in 2004 she participated in Remember New Zealand at 26th Sao Paulo Biennale, Brazil and facilitated a series of site-specific urban projects, Very Interesting, Very International, in public sites in Europe and the USA. Newby actively publishes and contributes to artist's books.