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Sandra Bushby & Natalie Guy: BLUE FLEUR
February 4 @ 10:00 am – March 1 @ 4:00 pm
Sandra Bushby & Natalie Guy: BLUE FLEUR
4 February – 1 March 2023
Opening: Saturday 4 February, 2 – 4pm
In Blue Fleur, an exhibition which derives its title from the poem by Joanna Margaret Paul (1945-2003), Sandra Bushby and Natalie Guy respond to poetic language across boundaries of medium, opening the edges between the materiality of language, emergent painting processes, and stained glass as a vessel for sculptural translation. The transparency of soft oil paint entwined with the transparency inherent in stained-glass merge together here with empathy, questioning how ecologies of material matters have shifted over time.
Bushby and Guy come together as two women artists with an admiration of each other’s work. Their interest in a collaborative project was spurred by a discussion of the sense of atmosphere they recognised in each other’s works and the realisation that they both draw upon literary sources for inspiration. This exhibition reflects their shared desire to collapse ideas from their respective practices—painting transmogrification in Bushby’s, and sculptural translation in Guy’s—in response to a new literary and physical referent.
Joanna Margaret Paul’s poetry collection Like Love Poems was chosen for its expressive symbolism of space and colour. The artists feel these qualities are physically manifested in Paul’s painted series Stations of the Cross (c. 1971), for St Mary, Star of the Sea Church in Port Chalmers. They recognise that Paul crosses boundaries in her use of materiality, as the fresco surface is juxtaposed with the translucency of the stained-glass windows in the chapel. Her dense, matte paintings which are spare in colour operate as a kind of window with its own sense of transparency, eliciting spiritual contemplation within the religious setting.
In pairing together to consider these specific works from Paul’s literary and artistic career, mutual influence is understood as being enacted between the source and us as well as between the new works themselves. In this cycle there is a shared communication between Paul’s poems, and fresco’s, the stained-glass of the church, Bushby’s paintings and Guy’s sculptures. When displayed together the paintings and sculptures in Blue Fluer converse and respond between themselves and with the past and the present.
About the Artists
Sandra Bushby: The aim of Bushby’s painting practice is to make paintings that are a corollary to poetry. The artist makes paintings of a certain type: those which respond to the language and materiality of poetry in the very different language and materiality of painting. She proceeds by researching the linguistic signs and forms that make up the art of poetry, with the aim of translating them into a corresponding set of painterly signs and forms.
Rather than seeking to reproduce the forms of words on the page, they transmogrify or ‘strangely change’ words, using only non-linguistic materials whose provenance is the history and practice of painting. In this way, poetry’s a-signifying sounds, atmospheres and rhythms are reconstituted by painterly means into a formal painting language of colour, line, and shape. Bushby emulates poetic sounds and rhythms by altering the speed, pressure and range of brush marks.
Bushby is represented by Sumer Gallery and has exhibited at Window Gallery, Two Rooms, George Fraser Gallery, Melanie Roger, and Elam Project Space. Her work is held at the Te Papa and Auckland Museum collections. She is currently a Doctoral Candidate at the University of Auckland, with an MFA from Elam School of Fine Arts.
Natalie Guy: Guy’s sculptural practice investigates how the process of literary translation can be applied to sculpture, inhabiting the role of the translator as an author of new works that collapse both physical and cultural sources. Guy has recently been researching modernist architectural memory using fragments of built structures as design cues in artworks that utilise a range of media including steel, fibreglass, bronze, and recently stained glass.
Guy draws from sources such as the Futuna and Ronchamp Chapels as architectural examples redolent with the spirit of a place, brought forth by their use of modulated light to instil an atmosphere of religious contemplation. As a result, they have an undeniable presence, the memory of which Guy translates through contemporary materiality in new works that examine transparency, light, and form.
Guy (Ngāpuhi, Ngāruahine) lives and works in Auckland, Aotearoa. She is represented by Sumer Gallery and has been exhibited widely throughout Aotearoa in public and private galleries and exhibitions, including Tauranga Art Gallery, Te Tuhi Auckland, Scape Public Art Christchurch, and Sculpture on the Gulf Waiheke. In 2022 she completed a doctorate in Fine Arts at Elam School of Fine Arts, the University of Auckland. She was the recipient of the inaugural Asia NZ Foundation 2017 Residency to Varanasi India and in 2019 was resident at Sculpture Space, Utica, NYS. In 2014 she won the Woollahra Small Sculpture Award and in the same year won a Merit Award in The National Contemporary Award. Her 2020 work The Pool is a permanent public work in Christchurch.