Like water by water
Carol Anne Bauer, Dilohana Lekamge, Fiona Pardington, Suji Park
Artist talk and opening: Saturday 12 August, from 2pm
Exhibition runs: 12 August – 3 September 2023
Offsite location: Aigantighe Art Gallery, 49 Wai-Iti Road, Māori Hill, Timaru
Curated by Simon Palenski and Amy Weng
A partnership between Blue Oyster and The Physics Room
Like water by water brings together artworks from Dilohana Lekamge, Suji Park, Carol Anne Bauer and Fiona Pardington. The exhibition adapts its title from the writings of self-taught geologist John Hardcastle (1847–1927), who observed and studied the unique geology of South Canterbury and made ground-breaking discoveries concerning climate change. Together, these accumulating histories and stories acknowledge the landscape of the region as a site of radical geomorphic transformation.
Each artist draws from elements of the physical environment: limestone, fossils, pigments and clay – materials imbued with speculative, relational and ecological narratives. Dilohana Lekamge’s newly commissioned film returns to Ram Setu, or Adam’s Bridge, a mysterious stretch of limestone shoal linking Sri Lanka and India which was the subject of her film A Different Ocean (2021). The traces of meteorological events in the limestone terrain of South Canterbury evoke for Lekamge displaced histories and diasporic longing for a distant other.
Suji Park’s ceramic sculptures recall archeological relics, primordial creatures and the plastic-bonded rocks of emergent and future geology by fusing together seemingly incompatible materials from different sources and geographies. Fiona Pardington’s photograph Pouakai (2006) stems from her ongoing project to document remnants of the pouākai Haast’s eagle. The pouākai was the largest eagle ever known and it lived in Te Waipounamu before becoming extinct 500 to 600 years ago. Pardington has a longstanding affinity with the pouākai and the physical manifestations of it that exist today; among these the rock drawings found in limestone formations depicting them.
Embroideries and paintings by the late artist Carol Anne Bauer (1935-2016) intricately render in thread and acrylic microscopic fossils and minerals, sea anemones and other oceanic forms - the kinds of marine organisms whose skeletal fragments have come to form the limestone landscapes of South Canterbury.
John Hardcastle recognised in the 1890s how loess soil deposits in the coastal cliffs near Timaru carry tangible reminders of past climates, with stratums of glacial action and of verdant tropical forests, and phases of rainfall and of drought, all spanning tens of thousands of years. Hardcastle is increasingly credited with being among the first people to undertake palaeoclimatology (the study of ancient climates), a field of study more critical than ever considering how this past July broke historical records for global temperature.
Like water by water suggests multiple ways of understanding complex geological and cultural landscapes. The recurring methodologies, processes and events that shape each artwork correlate with those that form elements of the land; like the actions of sedimentation and currents that mix and alternate, leaving traces which are expansive and granular.
Carol Anne Bauer (1935-2016) was born in New York City and studied painting, enamelling and stitchery at the University of Connecticut and the Eastern Connecticut State College before emigrating to Aotearoa New Zealand with her family in 1972. Working between embroidery, textiles and painting, her artworks draw from her fascination with light, pattern, scientific inquiry and the natural world - and the human and often mythic narratives and symbols that come to embody it.
Dilohana Lekamge is an artist, writer and curator based in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. She is a gallery coordinator at Fresh Gallery, Ōtara, an archivist at Satellites and recently completed the writer's residency at RM Gallery & Project Space. In 2022, she curated the exhibition The house is full at Te Tuhi, and she has also been an associate curator for the Performance Arcade and was a co-facilitator at MEANWHILE artist-run space from 2017-19.
Fiona Pardington (Ngāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe, Ngāti Kahungunu and Clan Cameron of Erracht) was born in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, holds a Doctorate of Fine Arts from the University of Auckland, and has been awarded a Knighthood of the French Order of Arts and Letters and made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit. Over three decades as an exhibiting artist, she continues to explore the capacities of photographs; what they represent and how they attend to what remains hidden or unseen. She lives and works from a property in Te Tari-a-Te-Kaumira the Hunters Hills.
Suji Park is a Korean-Aotearoa New Zealand artist based in Jeonju, South Korea who studied an MFA at Elam School of Fine Arts and has exhibited throughout Australasia. Park practises an enigmatic, cyclical and intuitive approach to materials, often destroying then reconstituting her work to make iridescent abstract forms and figurative sculptures. She is studying an MA in creative writing at the Korea National University of Arts while continuing to exhibit in Aotearoa New Zealand and South Korea.
With thanks to Amelia and Mark Dale, and to Adrian Kerr, for allowing Dilohana Lekamge to film on their properties in Maungati.