Ben Pearce, 'Life Will Go On Long After Money', 2017
This exhibition charts four artist installations by Stephen Ellis, Ben Pearce, Brit Bunkley and Glen Hayward. Each project explores a unique story, or stories, through sculpture, drawing and moving image that engage with ideas of the built environment, notions of dereliction and abandonment and conversations about history.
Stephen Ellis’ project Headforemost (top image) delves into the largely forgotten history of Cornwallis, a township on the shores of the Manukau Harbour that was never realised. This sad story charts the difficulties of immigration in the mid 19th Century, where Scottish families looking to start a new life on the other side of the world, were instead met with the disappointment of broken promises and the harsh reality of colonial dreams.
Reflecting on a more recent account of his brush with media notoriety, Ben Pearce has constructed his own floating hut (image above). Although not a replica, this vessel is a version of the infamous ‘protest’ raft that belonged to Paul Jepson in Nelson. Jepson’s story played out in the national headlines where Pearce became a willing participant in infiltrating and subverting the narrative. This child-sized hidey hole and accompanying video suggest alternate spaces to escape the complexities of the rat-race.
Glen Hayward, A man on a bed reading a book on existentialism while eating a piece of cheesecake in a room after the sun has set (detail), 2018. Photo: PAULNACHE
The collected models and moving image works of Brit Bunkley also suggest other ways of looking. Each site tells the tale of the cost of progress throughout history. Called Ghost Shelter, this project documents architectural landmarks that have been deserted and represent difficult histories. Using drone and 3D scanning technologies to map and recreate these spaces, Bunkley extracts his subjects, removing the context and the meaning.
Glen Hayward is also interested in the way history is represented. Creating his own hand-carved immobile Toyota Corolla, he references child-hood associations that play on ideas of discovery and different perspectives on the world. Each of the elements in his installation are like the rings of a tree, telling a slightly different version of events as time passes.
Although these are a series of distinct individual projects, there are also overarching ideas woven through the exhibition. Notions of dereliction and abandonment, manmade environments and conversations about history are explored in various ways, highlighting the intersections and crossovers between each artist’s project.