Object of art
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Object of art

2015 installation photograph of glass artist Emma Camden’s exhibition Now: New and selected cast glass work

Climb the stairs at the i-SITE on Taupo Quay into a light-filled gallery dedicated to showing object-based art. The gallery is perhaps a less known but integral part of Sarjeant on the Quay.

A red “coral” necklace made from sticks by jeweller Frances Stachl hangs, mid-air in one of several glass cabinets. The backstory to this piece concerns a necklace that belonged to Ms Stachl’s great grandmother and was lost. The artist made a jeweller’s response to many other objects that are important to their owners.
“An elephant’s memory for music” and “Soft hammers,” are both necklaces made from a piano gifted to the artist for her exhibition “Fiction in the Space Between.”

Other local, national and internationally known artists have exhibited in 15 exhibitions to date in the gallery – Emma Camden, Glen Hayward, Rick Rudd and Claudia Borella among others. Artists skillfully shape their chosen materials – be they ceramic, glass, wood; found or recycled materials to produce three-dimensional objects that are visually stunning, thought provoking works of art.

Sarjeant Gallery Curator & Public Programmes Manager Greg Donson says that while i-SITE gallery is physically across the road from the main gallery it is very much a part of the Sarjeant and that more people would benefit from knowing about it. Outside of Objectspace in Auckland, it is the only gallery in New Zealand dedicated entirely to object-based practice.

Since the gallery opened in November 2010 it has been managed as part of the Sarjeant’s lively and changing exhibition programme.


Visitors enjoying the Frances Stachl exhibition Fiction in the Space Between currently on show at the i-SITE gallery

“The purpose built cabinets and the abundant natural light are excellent for displaying objects and particularly glass. With a jewellery show like Francie’s the intimacy of the space means you can get quite close to the objects. It’s great to have the Gallery in this building along with the i-SITE and Mud Ducks as it makes for a really lively place for people to visit”, Mr Donson says.

“Often object based art is grounded in the everyday world. Potters will make things that can be used. They are forms that are all around us. For example some of the forms that are in Frances Stachl’s show are commonplace things but I think an artist’s [creative perspective] encourages people to think about objects in a different way. The i-SITE space gives our programme a bit more diversity and means we can do quite different things.”

He notices a resurgence in the hand made and says attendance at pottery courses has increased since the television show “The Great Pottery Throw Down.”
“The crossing of the divide between sometimes domestic practical use and art is interesting. You might have a piece by Ross Mitchell-Anyon on your shelf that looks great on its own or as a practical piece for cooking or flowers. While someone like Ross might produce many pieces that look the same his hand has crafted every one.”

The Sarjeant will continue to exhibit object art in the i-SITE until the redevelopment of the original building and extension is completed. Once that is done there will be object space available on site.
The exhibition of Frances Stachl’s jewellery – Fiction in the Space Between will show until 15 January 2017.


Helen Frances

This story was first published in the Wanganui Chronicle on 29 November, 2016.
Sarjeant Stories